Nauro Ferreira Campos on the Political U: New evidence on democracy and income

WIDER Seminar Series

Nauro Ferreira Campos on the Political U: New evidence on democracy and income

Nauro Ferreira Campos presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 20 September 2022.

The Political U:  New evidence on democracy and income

Co-authors: Fabrizio Coricelli and Marco Frigerio


This paper throws new light on the relationship between income and democracy. Using data for 162 countries over 1960-2018, we show that the causal relationship between political and economic development is U-shaped: “intermediate” political regimes significantly lead to inferior economic performance vis-à-vis both “democracies” and “autocracies.” Our results suggest “intermediate” regimes decrease long run GDP per capita by about 20 percent. These effects are mainly driven by political instability, while other potential mechanisms, such as education, investment and inequality, lack comparable empirical support. These findings are robust to, among others, using night-lights instead of GDP, different democracy measures and estimators.

About the author

Nauro Ferreira Campos is Professor of Economics at University College London and Director of the UCL Centre for Comparative Economics. His main fields of interest are political economy and European integration. He has previously taught at CERGE-EI (Prague), California, Newcastle, Brunel, Bonn, Paris 1 Sorbonne and Warwick. He is a Research Fellow at IZA-Bonn, a Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT (Maastricht University), a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the (Central) Bank of Finland, and a Senior Fellow of the ESRC Peer Review College. From 2009 to 2014, he was seconded as Senior Economic Advisor/SRF to the Chief Economist of the UK’s Department for International Development.  He is the editor in chief of Comparative Economic Studies (journal of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies) and of Cambridge University Press' series Elements of Economics of European Integration.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both in-house and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.