Politics and population health: Testing the impact of electoral democracy

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Abstract

This study addresses questions of whether and why electoral democracies have better health than other nations. After devising a replicable approach to missing data, we compare political, economic, and health-related data for 168 nations collected annually from 1960 through 2010. Regression models estimate that electoral democracies have 11 years of longer life expectancy on average and 62.5% lower rates of infant mortality. The association with life expectancy reduces markedly after controlling for GDP, while a combination of factors may explain the democratic advantage in infant health. Results suggest that income inequality associates independently with both health outcomes but does not mediate their associations with democracy.

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