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Recent empirical analysis suggests that individual national leaders can have large impacts on economic growth. Leaders have strongest effects in autocracies, where they appear to substantially influence both economic growth and the evolution of political institutions. These findings call for increased focus on national economic policies and the means of leadership selection, among other issues. In the large literature on economic growth, the role of national leaders has received relatively little attention. Yet the imperative for such work is increasing: recent empirical evidence suggests substantial roles for individual leaders in explaining national economic growth as well as national institutional change, which can further influence the growth environment.
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