State capacity first, then democracy
It is widely agreed that the states that are most capable of promoting development are “constrained Leviathans.” But there is debate about sequencing: does it matter whether states acquire state capacity before or after democratization? In a new article forGovernance, Michelle D’Arcy and Marina Nistotskaya argue that “democratizing after the state has acquired high levels of state capacity leads to a more efficient social order.” They use a novel indicator of historical state capacity — cadastral records — in their analysis. States that developed extensive capacities before democratization appear to be less corrupt and better at providing essential public goods today. Read the article.