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When a country moves from autocracy towards democracy, in what sequence does liberalization tend to occur?
Photo: Gaelle Marcel, Unsplash
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Failing and Successful Sequences of Democratization (FASDEM)

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Department of Political Science

Short description

FASDEM seeks to revolutionize our understanding of democratic transition by delineating and explaining both successful and failing episodes of democratization. It develops a new approach that identifies periods of liberalization that had the potential to produce a democratic transition. Using this universe of cases, we then distinguish successful episodes that resulted in a democratic transition from those that failed.

We also differentiate 3 types of failures:

• return to closed autocracy,
• stagnation and the institutionalization of an electoral authoritarian regime, or
• a short-lived transition to democracy that reverted to autocracy.

FASDEM provides the opportunity to explore a novel set of questions:

  • When a country moves from autocracy towards democracy, in what sequence does liberalization tend to occur?
  • Which components of democracy develop first?
  • Are there common patterns for countries that successfully democratize that are distinct from those that fail?

Methods

FASDEM draws on methods adapted from modeling in evolutionary biology to describe transition sequences. This includes a new sequential requisites algorithm that capitalizes on the V-Dem multidimensional conceptualization of democracy to map which aspects of democracy develop before others during a democratization episode. For more on this method, see our recently published paper Sequential Requisites Analysis: A New Method for Analyzing Sequential Relationships in Ordinal Data.

To rule out causes the project employs vector autoregression (VAR) techniques and impulse response functions. This canonical econometric approach simultaneously models the dynamics of multiple dependent indicators of democracy over time to help address theoretical questions in the literature about alternative paths to democracy. VAR allows us to test whether certain components of democracy evolve over time together in ways that suggest a causal relationship. To further establish causal processes underlying successful and failed episodes of democratization, FASDEM draws on a cutting-edge negative outcome control technique (NOCNOC) developed by Glynn and Ichino (2018). This generalization of the difference-in-difference-in-differences (DiDiD) uses results for a placebo outcome to non-parametrically correct the results for the outcome of interest. This reduces confounding in the effect size, allowing us greater confidence in the causal inferences.

Research questions

Sub-Project 1

Which are the failing & successful sequences of democratization?

Sub-Project 2

What are the determining causal relationships in these sequences?

New Sequencing Methods

Adapted from Evolutionary Biology (parasite-host systems)

A. Graphical Investigation

B. Frequency Tables

C. Dependency Analysis

D. Bayesian Dynamic Systems

Causal Identification Methods Genetics/Bayesian Statistics/Econometrics

A. Vector Auto-Regression

B. Generalized Difference-in-Difference-in-Difference

Publications

Patrik Lindenfors, Joshua Krusell and Staffan I. Lindberg (2019). Sequential Requisites Analysis: A New Method for Analyzing Sequential Relationships in Ordinal Data. Social Science Quarterly.

Glynn and Ichino (2018). Nonlinear Difference-in-Differences and Difference-inDifference-in-Differences with Placebo and Surrogate Outcomes (pdf-file, 30 pages, 352 kB).