Qual Quant (2013) 47:1971–1989
Examining variation in economic performance using
Barbara Vis · Jaap Woldendorp · Hans Keman
Published online: 17 November 2011
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract How to account for variation in economic performance across countries and peri-
ods? This paper proposes a new substantive and methodological approach. Substantively, we
focus on variation in overall performance: the combination of growth, employment, and debt.
We construct eight models using these variables and analyze countries’ ﬁt to them. Meth-
odologically, we employ fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). The analysis
of 19 OECD countries between 1975 and 2005 fails to support traditional hypotheses about
partisanship, central bank independence, trade openness, and corporatism. Instead, differ-
ent combinations of conditions are conducive to good performance and these differ across
periods and countries.
Keywords Economic performance · Institutions · Corporatism · Partisanship ·
Central bank independence · Openness
How to explain the differences in economic performance across countries and across periods?
This question has been at the top of the research agenda for decades. The large literature on
the political background of economic performance indicates that relevant factors are parti-
sanship (Hibbs 1977; Alvarez et al. 1991), the degree of central bank independence (CBI)
(Hall and Franzese 1998,seeIversen and Soskice 2006; Iversen 1998), the extent of corpo-
ratism (Wilensky 2006; Schmidt 1982; Cameron 1984; Crépaz 1992; Woldendorp 2005), and
the degree of openness of the economy (Sachs and Warner 1995; Frankel and Romer 1999;
Calderón and Fuentes 2006). Yet, there is no consensus about which of these explanatory
factors is most relevant nor is there consensus about the precise effect of the factors.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11135-011-9637-4)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
B. Vis · J. Woldendorp (
) · H. Keman
Department of Political Science, VU University, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam,