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Population and Politics
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Book description

Every country, every subnational government, and every district has a designated population, and this has a bearing on politics in ways most citizens and policymakers are barely aware of. Population and Politics provides a comprehensive evaluation of the political implications stemming from the size of a political unit – on social cohesion, the number of representatives, overall representativeness, particularism ('pork'), citizen engagement and participation, political trust, electoral contestation, leadership succession, professionalism in government, power concentration in the central apparatus of the state, government intervention, civil conflict, and overall political power. A multimethod approach combines field research in small states and islands with cross-country and within-country data analysis. Population and Politics will be of interest to academics, policymakers, and anyone concerned with decentralization and multilevel governance.


The size of a polity is crucial to its politics. Political scientists have known this since Plato, but the impact of population size is complex because affects many political outcomes. Gerring and Veenendaal offer the authoritative account of the impact of scale by bringing together the results and ideas of a large and diverse literature with new empirical evidence on thirteen important aspects of how democracy thrives in small and large political communities.

Søren Serritzlew - Aarhus University

Scale matters in profound ways for politics. That is the conclusion of this bold, wide-ranging, data rich, and strikingly original book. The book shows empirically the extent to which size matters for dozens of outcomes ranging from cabinet size to extent of steel production. In discovering various scale effects, the authors provide new data for answering the fundamental question that intrigued the classical theorists: What is the optimal size for political communities?

James Mahoney - Northwestern University

'This book will shake up what you think you know about governance. Scale effects – which we rarely reflect on – turn out to be pervasive in their effects on political institutions. Bigger states are more powerful, but are they better governed? Better places to live? Gerring and Veenendaal confront these questions and more and deliver powerful findings on how polity size shapes politics.'

Jack A. Goldstone - Virginia E. and John T. Hazel, Jr Professor of Public Policy and Eminent Scholar, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

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