Democracy and growth in pre-industrial countries
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, 37 (1), Jan-Mar 2017: 88-107.
This paper distinguishes three types of countries (rich, middle-income, and pre-industrial) and focus on the latter, which, in contrast to the other two, didn't complete their industrial and capitalist revolutions. Can pre-industrial countries be governed well and embody the principles of consolidated democracies? Today these countries are under pressure from the imperial West to eschew institutions and developmental strategies that, in the past, allowed rich and middle-income countries to industrialize. At the same time, they are pressured by these same Western parties (and by its own people) to be democratic, even though their societies are not mature enough to fulfill that. In fact, no country completed its industrial and capitalist revolution within the framework of even a minimal democracy, suggesting that such demands are unfair. Added to this, pre-industrial countries are extremely difficult to govern because they usually don't have a strong nation and capable states. This double pressure to renounce development strategies that have worked for the West while being required to become a democracy represents a major obstacle to their development.