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Democratic Transitions

by David L. Epstein, Robert Bates, Jack Goldstone & Sharyn O'Halloran. Reading for week of January 24, 2006.

Przeworski, Alvarez, Cheibub, and Limongi (2000) challenge the key hypothesis in modernization theory:  political regimes do not transition to democracy as per capita incomes rise, they argue.  Rather democratic transitions occur randomly, but once there, countries with higher levels of GDP per capita remain democratic.  We retest the modernization hypothesis using new data, new techniques, and a three-way rather than dichotomous classification of regimes.  Contrary to Przeworski et al. (2000) we find that the modernization hypothesis stands up well.  We also find that partial democracies emerge as among the most important and least understood regime types.

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Center for Comparative and Global Research