29
Comment

JOHN D. STEPHENS


29.1 Grier's contribution

Kevin Grier's chapter advances our understanding of the determinants of economic growth in advanced capitalist countries by bringing together hypotheses from the literatures in economics and political science and subjecting them to rigorous empirical tests. As Grier correctly argues, past literature in economics has ignored the type of institutional variables of interest to political scientists such as collective bargaining systems, union strength, and party composition of government, while the political scientists fail to control for the basic economic variables such as investment, growth of the labour force, or initial level of economic development. Both economists and political scientists have been unimaginative, or unsophisticated in their statistical analyses. Almost all of the contributions to the literature are cross-sectional analyses. Such studies either include a very large number of heterogeneous countries at varying levels of economic development and with varying political regime form, or restrict the analysis to a small number of strictly comparable countries, typically the advanced capitalist democracies of Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan (the 'OECD democracies'). The large-N studies suffer from lack of data comparability and, more important, from the fact that the statistical relations within various subgroups of the sample are sufficiently different that generalizations drawn from the whole sample are of dubious value. Cross-sectional analyses of the OECD democracies typically are limited by the small number of cases: in attempting to test the full range of relevant hypotheses, authors quickly use up the degrees of freedom in the sample.

Grier has joined a handful of scholars in taking the obvious

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