World Politics 63 (4):647-677 (2011)

Authors
Simon Wigley
Bilkent University
Abstract
Many scholars claim that democracy improves population health. The prevailing explanation for this is that democratic regimes distribute health-promoting resources more widely than autocratic regimes. The central contention of this article is that democracies also have a significant pro-health effect independently of public redistributive policies. After establishing the theoretical plausibility of the non-distributive effect a panel of 153 countries for the years 1972 to 2000 is used to examine the relationship between extent of democratic experience and life expectancy. We find that democratic governance continues to have a salutary effect on population health even when controls are introduced for the distribution of health-enhancing resources. Data for 50 autocratic countries for the years 1994 to 2007 is then used to examine whether that press freedom has a positive impact on life expectancy independently of government responsiveness.
Keywords Non-distributive effect
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