Economic Dependence on the State and Democracy: Theory and Evidence from Latin America

Carlos Gervasoni

Associate Professor of Political Science, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

September 18, 2019 10:00AM E53-482

Carlos Gervasoni, M.A. in Political Science, Stanford University; Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Notre Dame, is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina). He is the author of Hybrid Regimes within Democracies: Fiscal Federalism and Subnational Rentier States (Cambridge UP, 2018). His articles have appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Democratization, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Party Politics, PolĂ­tica y Gobierno, and World Politics. He is a Regional Manager for the Varieties of Democracy project.

"Economic Dependence on the State and Democracy: Theory and Evidence from Latin America"
A long tradition in comparative politics poses that democracy is incompatible with statism. Classic authors in the field like Robert Dahl, Martin Lipset and Giovanni Sartori saw economically dominant states as a threat to the emergence and survival of political rights and individual freedoms. More recent scholarship --including works on the rentier state and on subnational regimes-- has presented significant macro and micro-level evidence on the difficult coexistence of economic dependence on the state and democracy. However, several questions remain. What do we exactly mean by statism and economic dependence? Are different types of state dependence causally similar? Is the alleged incompatibility a general rule, or an effect conditional on factors such as the prevalence of weakly institutionalized, corrupt and patrimonial state institutions? Drawing on existing theories and on evidence from Latin America, this presentation will seek to stimulate innovative thinking about an important but undertheorized issue in comparative politics.