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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the important role played by two basic principles—representative democracy, and a proper division of power between national and subnational governments—in America’s successful development. The discussion begins with background on America’s colonial origins and its establishment as a nation, before turning to the benefits of decentralized democracy. The chapter then considers how American-style democracy has been applied in other countries without decentralization, in contrast to America’s systematic extension of decentralized federal democracy to new territories. It also shows how decentralized democracy empowered immigrants and argues that national elites tend to be biased against federal decentralization. In conclusion, the chapter explains how federal decentralization has benefited Americans in a variety of ways and summarizes lessons that the strength of American federal democracy imparts for global development.

Keywords: representative democracy, division of power, national government, subnational government, development, federal democracy, decentralized democracy, federal decentralization, immigrants, national elites

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