Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

What Kind of Government is Good for the Poor?

Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Professor Michael L. Ross, Dept. of Political Science, University of California-Los Angeles, will present "What King of Government is Good for the Poor?" Peter Timmer, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development will serve as the discussant.

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the factors that explain how well governments improved the condition of the poor, measured by changes in infant and child mortality, between 1970 and 2000. It makes special efforts to cope with missing data; to control for country-specific effects; to test for robustness; and to control for environmental and demographic factors that make poverty alleviation more difficult. Using both first-difference and panel regressions, it shows that infant and child mortality dropped more quickly in countries with higher initial incomes, faster economic growth, higher population density, and lower HIV prevalence. Democracy also helped reduce infant and child mortality; there was also less variance in the performance of democracies than nondemocracies. It also finds that armed conflict had no measureable impact; that left-oriented democratic governments did no better than nonleft democratic governments; and that communist states did a worse job than noncommunist states, although this was largely caused by their poor growth record.