The Effect of Polarization on Economic Growth, Social Capital, and Democracy: A Cross-Country Study

Maham Zahra Mehdi, Danish Ahmed Siddiqui


In the last decade, one of the biggest global issues that have been debated upon is whether increased rates of migration, diversity, and political polarization stemming from these factors have any impact on the economic growth of countries. Accordingly, this paper explores the effect of polarization on democracy, social capital, education, and economic growth in a cross-country analysis involving developed countries, developing countries, and the least developed countries. A bilateral time series analysis was conducted by treating each country-set in isolation, as well as a group and focusing on the period 2009 to 2018. According to our results, polarization appears to have a negative effect on the economic growth of developing countries. The same results were observed when we analyzed all the countries collectively. An inverse relationship was also established between polarization and social capital in developed countries. Meanwhile, polarization does not have any significant impact on democracy and education for any of the countries under study. It was also determined that when treated independently, democracy, social capital, education, and GDP per capita all appear to have a varying yet negative effect on polarization.

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