Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis

Yanyan Gao, Leizhen Zang, Antoine Roth, Puqu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Democratic countries produce higher levels of innovation than autocratic ones, but does democratization itself lead to innovation growth either in the short or in the long run? The existing literature has extensively examined the relationship between democracy and growth but seldom explored the effect of democracy on innovation, which might be an important channel through which democracy contributes to economic growth. This article aims to fill this gap and contribute to the long-standing debate on the relationship between democracy and innovation by offering empirical evidence based on a data set covering 156 countries between 1964 and 2010. The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1283
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep
Externally publishedYes


  • DID method
  • Democracy
  • Innovation
  • Patent data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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