Do Democracies Exhibit Stronger Environmental Commitment? A Cross-Country Analysis
Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 139-164, 2003
52 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2001 Last revised: 7 Jul 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2001
This article tests the hypothesis that democracies exhibit stronger environmental commitment than non-democracies using multivariate econometric techniques. A number of proxy variables are used in lieu of environmental commitment, a non-observable variable. Strong evidence is found that democracies sign and ratify more multilateral environmental agreements, participate in more environmental intergovernmental organisations, comply better with reporting requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, put a greater percentage of their land area under protections status, host a greater number of international environmental non-governmental organisations and have less environmentally relevant information missing than non-democracies. The findings suggest that a spread of democracy around the world will lead to enhanced environmental commitment worldwide. Results are robust with respect to inclusion or exclusion of developed countries in the sample. The use of four different variables for democracy also ensures robustness with respect to the measure of democracy. The strong evidence in favour of a positive link between democracy and environmental commitment stands in stark contrast to the rather weak evidence on such a link between democracy and environmental outcomes. The explanation presumably is that theory merely predicts a positive link between democracy and environmental commitment, but not necessarily with environmental outcomes.
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