8
Comment

TORSTEN PERSSON

It is a great pleasure to read and comment on this paper. What it does is to survey recent theoretical and empirical research on political factors in the growth process. The authors are indeed two of the main contributors to this emerging field, which runs across the conventional boundaries between macroeconomics, development economics and political science. In addition, the paper sheds some new light on two specific hypotheses regarding an empirical relation that has been emphasized in recent research: countries with a more unequal distribution of income turn out to have lower growth rates. I shall organize my comments into four parts, each part corresponding to a question: (1) What are the stylized facts regarding political factors and growth? (the material treated in Chapters 2-4); (2) Does the measured negative effect from income inequality to economic growth run via political instability? (Chapter 5); (3) Or does it run via redistributive fiscal policies? (Chapter 6); (4) Where should we go in future research on politics and growth?


8.1 What do we know?

Instability and growth

On purely theoretical grounds we may plausibly argue that there ought to be a two-way negative relation between political instability and economic growth. On the one hand major political instability may lead to economic policies--or expectations of policies--that seriously hamper the incentives for private accumulation of physical capital, human capital, or productive knowledge. On the other hand, bad growth performance is likely to produce discontent with incumbent leaders and thus gener-

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