Economic growth and social indicators : an exploratory analysis

by Johannes Fedderke, Robert Klitgaard

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback35 pages Free

What are the connections between social and political conditions and economic growth? This article explores the uses and misuses of statistical analysis of cross-country data in addressing this question. It shows that social, political, and economic indicators are linked by webs of association. Such webs of association suggest the possibility of distinct groupings of social indicators with differentiated impacts on economic growth. But such correlations also make it difficult to disentangle causal relationships, especially when theorizing is weak, data are badly behaved, and the number of observations is small. Although under such conditions statistical techniques can help preclude premature generalizations, they are easily overinterpreted. Nonetheless, data analysis can help identify countries that seem exceptions to the general patterns, where careful case studies may be especially valuable.

Research conducted by

Originally published in: Economic Development and Cultural Change, v. 46, no. 3, April 1998, pp. 455-489.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.