Murder by the State

Studies | Crime

No. 211
Monday, September 01, 1997
by Gerald W. Scully


Comparison of Growth Paths: Democidal and Non-Democidal Countries

Figure VI - Path of Per Capita Output in Democidal and Non-Democidal Nations

To eliminate intercountry differences in per capita income levels, I converted real GDP data to indexes (1960 = 100) by dividing the income data by the base year.

"Nations with freer institutions grow faster than those with less freedom."

To make comparisons of the growth paths of nations that practice democide and those that do not, a comparison sample is required. These nations should be more or less similar in their stage of economic and political development. In most instances, the nations that have practiced democide are autocratic and less developed. My sample of non-democidal, less-developed and mainly autocratic nations consists of 23 countries.15 A composite index of per capita real GDP was obtained by weighting each real GDP by its population share and summing to form a weighted mean for the series.

There are 33 democidal nations in my sample.16 I converted these 33 nations into a representative democidal nation by weighting each nation's real GDP by its population share, summing and then converting the real GDP into an index (1960 = 100).

Figure VI compares the two indexes of the paths of per capita real GDP. Clearly, the path of income in the democidal nations is below that of the non-democidal, autocratic nations. Dividing the index of per capita real GDP of the democidal nations by that of the non-democidal nations yielded an average value of .81. Democidal rent seeking then is estimated at 19.2 percent of real GDP (1 - .808).

Figure VII - Path of Per Capita Output in "Freer" and Autocratic Non-Democidal Nations

To make sure that the result is not a function of the 23 nations chosen for the comparison sample, I constructed a sample of 11 other mostly freer, less-developed, non-democidal nations.17 I composed this index in the same way as the others and present it in Figure VII. Observe that the composite index for the 11 freer nations is above that of the 23 autocratic nations. This result is not surprising, since nations with freer institutions have been shown to grow more rapidly than those with less freedom.18

It is possible that the effect of democide on the path of real per capita income is not uniform across countries or continents. The scale of democide may differ, people's attitudes toward it may vary (e.g., some may be more stoic; genocide may be less disagreeable to the dominant group than a general terror), and some may be better informed about what is occurring than others due to differing levels of literacy and government control of the media.

Figures VIII, IX and X compare the composite indexes of the democidal nations of Africa, Latin America and Asia with that of the 23 non-democidal nations. There is a ranking among the groups, but it is not very strong. Africa's economies have suffered the most. Democidal rent seeking is estimated at 24.7 percent of real GDP per capita in Africa, 18.6 percent in Asia and 18.0 percent in Latin America.

Figure VIII - Path of Per Capita Output in Non-Democidal and African Democidal Nations

To get a feel for the range of outcomes among democidal nations, in Tables I and Table I Continued the paths of the indexes of per capita income in eight democidal nations are compared with the composite index of 23 non-democidal nations.

In Figures XI-a, XI-b, XI-c and XI-d, four African nations are compared. Terror was the principal form of democide in Algeria and Angola. Burundi and Rwanda suffered from genocide. Democidal rents averaged 19.1 percent over the period 1960-90 in Algeria and 61.6 percent in Angola over the period 1975-89. About 50,000 were murdered by the Algerian state in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but democidal terror continued at a lower level thereafter. In Angola, about 125,000 were murdered between 1975 and 1987. Democidal rents averaged 54.8 percent in Burundi over the period 1965-90, when about 150,000 were murdered, mainly in the Hutu genocide. Democidal rents averaged 27.0 percent in Rwanda over the period 1962-90; about 15,000 were murdered in genocide campaigns over the period 1962-73 and an additional 500,000 people in 1994.19

In Figures XII-a, XII-b, XII-c and XII-d, the effect of democide is shown for two Latin American and two Asian nations. During the Pinochet terror in Chile, which lasted from 1973 to 1987, some 10,000 were murdered. The average democidal rent over the period 1973-90 was 35.2 percent. In Guatemala, over the period 1956-87, 122,000 were murdered in terror campaigns and massacres. The average democidal rent over the period 1960-90 was 18.8 percent. Genocide was the main form of democide in Bangladesh. Over the period 1972-87, about 15,000 were killed. Democidal rent averaged 29.1 percent over the period 1972-90. In the Philippines (1972-86) about 15,000 were murdered.20 Democidal rent (1972-90) averaged 18.2 percent.

Figure IX - Path of Per Capita Output in Non-Democidal and Latin American Democidal Nations

Figure X - Path of Per Capita Output in Non-Democidal and Asian Democidal Nations

Figure XI-a - Path of Per Capita Output in Algeria and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XI-b - Path of Per Capita Output in Angola and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XI-c - Path of Per Capita Output in Burundi and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XI-d - Path of Per Capita Output in Rwanda and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XII-a - Path of Per Capita Output in Chile and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XII-b - Path of Per Capita Output in Guatemala and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XII-c - Path of Per Capita Output in Bangladesh and Non-Democidal Nations

Figure XII-d - Path of Per Capita Output in Philippines and Non-Democidal Nations


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