Party Strength and Economic Growth (with John Gerring, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Allen Hicken, Michael Bernard, Sven-Erik Skaaning, Michael Coppedge, and Staffan Lindberg)
The literature on the determinants of economic growth has emphasized the positive role played by political institutions. In a paper (World Politics, 2018) with 7 other members of the V-Dem team, I demonstrate how strong political parties are the most important institutional determinant of economic growth. Taking advantage of a myriad of advanced quantitative strategies and the extraordinary new data produced by V-Dem, we show that a standard deviation difference in levels of party strength predicts that two otherwise identical countries would be completely different in 50 years because the country with stronger parties will develop twice as fast.
Because levels of party institutionalization may affect the availability of good data, existing datasets have limited reliability and coverage. To overcome these problems, we introduce the V-Dem Party Institutionalization Index, the first global country-level index on the issue. It covers – as of May 2017 – 173 countries for 117 years (1900-2016). Its geographical coverage, timespan, and conceptual reach are larger than any existing alternative. We offer an additive index that measures the scope and depth of party institutionalization in a country every year. Scope is measured by the proportion of parties that reach a threshold of minimal institutionalization, while the linkages party establish with the masses and the elites define the depth. Exploring a set of well-known cases, we show that: the index has extensive face validity, is consistent across regime types, and is comparable to other established indicators of institutionalization.
Using a large and complex dataset as V-Dem for empirical analyses entails many research challenges. I have helped the project as we tackle with some of them. I have collaborated on the project of incorporating the uncertainty estimates associated with the V-Dem measurement model in empirical analyses. I developed a protocol (with Dan Pemstein and Michael Coppedge) that allows researchers to incorporate V-Dem's measure of uncertainty to their analysis in order to improve their ability to learn new things about the world using the data.