On 2003-07-14, Wei Dai uttered: >1. Why is fertility higher in dictatorships? Do dictators like bigger >populations, and democrats like smaller populations?
Maybe they're poorer in aggregate? I mean, sustenance-level poverty is one of the prime causal precedents of high fertility, and most dictatorships are poor ones, because of ineffective rule of law and wide-spread corruption. Sure, there are a few wealthy dictatorships (Saudi Arabia comes to mind), but that's because of independent factors (which usually do not touch the entire population). >Does population growth influence choice of government? Under extreme poverty, likely not -- poverty would drive people to take care of their own business, not politics. Under other conditions, probably yes -- relative poverty and the greed thereoff is how we got the welfare state. We would expect the per capita lack of income in young generations induced by population growth to affect at least redistributive policy. For example, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the precise description of how politics in India works right now. If the latter hypothesis pans out, we have to be real grateful that industrialisation proceeded so rapidly in the West, unhindered by full-grown democracy. Otherwise we never would have tunneled onto the level of wealth which throttles population growth, without bumping into a democratic political wall with the working class requiring income transfers -- the latter slows growth, so we could well have become stuck in between. >2. Should economists try to maximize GDP, or per capita GDP? Neither, I think. Maximizing GDP would not be conducive to general welfare. Maximizing per capita GDP today would also violate individual choice, if we also take into account individuals' time preferences. I would take full heed of the principle of revealed preference, and just let people choose. >Another interesting piece of information in this article is that >democratic regimes are more frequent in more developed countries, but >it's not because those countries are more likely to become democracies. >Rather it's because they are less likely to revert back to dictatorships. >Among democracies that have collapsed, the one with the highest per >capita income is Argentina in 1975 -- US$6055. I would side with Robert Kaplan (http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97dec/democ.htm) and conjecture that democracy can only survive in a relatively homogeneous population, constrained by the rule of law. Secondarily I would claim that democracy can only survive where its transaction costs and the steadily increasing dead weight it produces can be absorbed by economic growth. Such conditions seem to sweep most of the unsuccessful democracies from the picture. They might sweep us under the rug as well. The conjecture might be false, but at least it supplies some basis for the claim that growth is "necessary" (which it of course isn't in any purely economic framework). -- Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED], tel:+358-50-5756111 student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front openpgp: 050985C2/025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2