Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection
63 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2015 Last revised: 6 Oct 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2015
This study takes a new tack on the question of modernization and democracy, focused on the outcome of theoretical interest. We argue that economic development affects the electoral component of democracy but has minimal impact on other components of this diffuse concept. This is so because development (a) alters the power and incentives of top leaders and (b) elections provide a focal point for collective action. The theory is tested with two new datasets – Varieties of Democracy and Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy – that allow us to disaggregate the concept of democracy into meso- and micro-level indicators. Results of these tests corroborate the theory: only election-centered indices are correlated with economic development. This may help to account for apparent inconsistencies across extant studies and may also shed light on the mechanisms at work in a much-studied relationship.
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