Unbundling Democracy: Tilly Trumps Schumpeter
56 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2013 Last revised: 28 Nov 2013
Date Written: October 2013
Much of the recent political economy and political science literature views democracy in one-dimensional terms, primarily in terms of political rights. This feature is particularly pronounced in the empirical literature, especially in the recent strand that seeks to identify the determinants of democracy. We expand on this view of democracy by incorporating the role of civil liberties, noting that these are conceptually at the core of modern democracy. We offer a conceptual framework that identifies five sources of potential differences in the evolution of political rights and civil liberties. We investigate the empirical evidence on this differential evolution using cross-national panel data based on the Freedom House measures of political rights and civil liberties. We show that civil liberties are more persistent than political rights in affecting subsequent outcomes and that this result is robust to the addition of covariates, estimation techniques, and variations in our sample. Moreover, we also show that while prior levels of civil liberties impact substantially and positively current levels of political rights, the reverse is not the case. We then consider how the unbundling of democracy relates to two important recent findings: Acemoglu et al’s (2008) conclusion that long-run income changes do not affect democracy in terms of political rights holds as well for civil liberties; Tsui’s (2011) conclusion that changes in oil discoveries affect democracy in terms of political rights negatively is consistent with our finding that total oil reserves affect democracy negatively, not only in terms of political rights but also in terms of civil liberties.
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