Democratic governance has a strong advantage in improving the economies of countries and enriching them.

That is the argument being advanced by the Vice Dean of the Academic and Faculty Affairs of the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the United States, Professor Peter Lewis.

The view is as a result of evidence from a concluding study that will be out by the end of the year, which seeks to find out the impact of regimes on the economic pathways of countries.


Sharing some of his findings at a round-table discussion, Prof. Lewis conceded the evidence of the strong economic progress of autocratic states such as China, Indonesia and South Korea and the poverty and economic stagnation of others.

He also admitted that democratic states had challenges, but emphasised the fact that it was important for a discussion on those issues.

The round-table discussion was organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) with the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo as one of the participants.


As part of the research work, Prof. Lewis sought to find answers to the questions: Do political regimes matter to development and to what degree do they matter?

He also sought responses to the question: If political regimes have an identifiable impact on development, then what is it about the regime that yields that effect?

By these, he wanted to understand the economic pathways of different types of regimes, whether democracies or autocracies.

Clear pattern

Using the Gross Domestic Product/per capita data of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Prof. Lewis compared that to governance measures, such as the type of governance (whether fully functioning democracies, electoral democracies, authoritarian governance), the human development indicators and events during transitional changes in the respective countries.

Prof. Lewis said the data showed a clear pattern in the way regimes fared over a 30-year period studied from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

He said the data showed a relationship between regimes and economic reform, with democratic states having an advantage in economic performance.

Additionally, the analysis showed that political transitions were accompanied by economic turbulence, with electoral democracies reflecting more disruptive transitions than liberal democracies.

Also, economic growth resumed after two to five years for all regimes after transitions.

Interestingly, his analysis pointed to autocratic regimes temporarily showing higher growth in the wake of transitions.

Generally, however, his figures showed liberal or effective democracies performing better over time.

“What we conclude here is that there is an association between democracy and economic performance,” Prof. Lewis said.


Source : Graphic