Who governs or how they govern: Testing the impact of democracy, ideology and globalization on the well being of the poor

Eunyoung Ha and Nicholas L.Cain in The Social Science Journal: “This paper examines the effects of regime type, government ideology and economic globalization on poverty in low- and middle-income countries around the world. We use panel regression to estimate the effect of these explanatory variables on two different response variables: national poverty gap (104 countries from 1981 to 2005) and child mortality rate (132 countries from 1976 to 2005). We find consistent and significant results for the interactive effect of democracy and government ideology: strong leftist power under a democratic regime is associated with a reduction in both the poverty gap and the child mortality rate. Democracy, on its own, is associated with a lower child mortality rate, but has no effect on the poverty gap. Leftist power under a non-democratic regime is associated with an increase in both poverty measures. Trade reduces both measures of poverty. Foreign direct investment has a weak and positive effect on the poverty gap. From examining factors that influence the welfare of poor people in less developed countries, we conclude that who governs is as important as how they govern….

  • Our paper uses a unique dataset to study the impact of regime type, ideology and globalization on two measures of poverty.
  • We find that higher levels of democracy are associated with lower child mortality rates, but do not impact poverty gap.
  • The interaction of regime type and ideology has a strong effect: leftist power in a democracy reduces poverty and child mortality.
  • We find that trade significantly reduces both the poverty gap and the child mortality rate.
  • Overall, we find strong evidence that who governs is as important as how they govern…(More)”