Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection

63 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2015 Last revised: 6 Oct 2016

See all articles by Carl Henrik Knutsen

Carl Henrik Knutsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

John Gerring

University of Texas at Austin

Svend-Erik Skaaning

Aarhus University

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science

Matthew Maguire

San José State University

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute; University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 1, 2015

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Gerring, John and Skaaning, Svend-Erik and Teorell, Jan and Maguire, Matthew and Coppedge, Michael and Lindberg, Staffan I., Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection (November 1, 2015). V-Dem Working Paper 2015:16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2695447 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2695447

Carl Henrik Knutsen (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Olso, 0851
Norway

John Gerring

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Svend-Erik Skaaning

Aarhus University ( email )

Bartholins Allé 7
Aarhus, 8000
Denmark

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Department of Political Science
Box 52
Lund, SE 40530
Sweden

Matthew Maguire

San José State University ( email )

San José, CA
United States

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute ( email )

Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

216 Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN New South Wales 46556-5646
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nd.edu/~mcoppedg/crd

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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