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Politics and population health: testing the impact of electoral democracy

Faculty Advisor




comparative politics, democracy, infant mortality, life expectancy, political regimes

Abstract (summary)

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.

Publication Information

Patterson, A. C., & Veenstra, G. Politics and population health: testing the impact of electoral democracy. Health & Place, 40, 66-75.


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