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The Volatility Curse: Exogenous Shocks and Representation in Resource-Rich Democracies

Monday, May 31, 2021, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm


The Volatility Curse examines the conditions under which economic voting can (and cannot) function as a mechanism of democratic accountability, challenging existing theories that are largely based on experiences in developed democracies. Drawing on cross-national data from around the world and micro-level evidence from Latin America, Professor Campello’s book (co-authored with Cesar Zucco) makes two broad, related arguments. First, they show that economic voting is pervasive around the world, but in economically volatile developing democracies that are dependent on commodity exports and inflows of foreign capital, economic outcomes are highly contingent on conditions beyond government control, which nonetheless determine relevant political outcomes like elections, popular support, and government transitions. Second, politicians are aware of these misattribution patterns and are often able to anticipate their electoral prospects well before elections. This reduces incumbents' incentives to maximize voter welfare, as anticipated by economic voting theories, and increases the likelihood of shirking, waste, and corruption.