Political Systems and Their Outcomes

7 min readNov 2, 2019

It matters!

Back in 2006, I was curious whether electoral systems (and the lack thereof) had much influence on the spread of wealth per each nation. I discovered that there are indeed distinct differences in outcomes.

Naturally, 2006 is a long time ago. China was not the economic powerhouse it is today, and a number of wars and revolutions had not taken place. The world was in turmoil, post Berlin Wall, post Twin Towers, and more turmoil has been added since. The good part of looking at political systems and their outcomes is that they do not change all that fast.

There are of course many ways to look at political systems and, equally true, there are many different outcomes to pick from. I used data from nationmaster.com and focused on the wealth of both the top ten percent in a nation and the bottom ten percent in a nation. At the bottom of this article, two links are provided to the World Bank website with more recent data.

All nations that I was able to get data for were divided among five distinct systems (looking back that should have been six distinctions):

1/ Nations with District Voting
2/ Nations with a Form of Dictatorship
3/ Proportional Voting with a President
4/ Mixture of District Voting and Proportional Voting
5/ Proportional Voting (without a president)

The graph on the top ten percent in a nation is repeated below the next paragraph. The graph for the bottom ten percent follows later.

To the left, one can read the percentage of wealth held by the top in each nation, with Nicaragua in top in 2006, its elite having 50 percent of the wealth of that nation. The data shown is actually based on income or on consumption information. It makes the graph somewhat weaker. On top of that, each nation has their own methodology for collecting data. The information is still fascinatingly important, and of good quality, but it is good to know that this collective of data has some wobbly quality to it.