How does democracy work to improve well-being? In this paper, we disentangle the component parts of democratic practice—elections, civic participation, expansion of social provisioning, local administrative capacity—to identify their relationship with well-being. Our analysis of an original dataset covering over 5,550 Brazilian municipalities demonstrates that competitive elections alone do not explain variation in infant mortality rates, one outcome associated with wellbeing. We move beyond elections to show how participatory institutions, social programs, and local state capacity can interact to buttress one another and reduce infant mortality rates. The result is a new understanding of how different aspects of democracy work together to improve a key feature of human development.
- Social programs
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science