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Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection

Journal article
Authors Carl Henrik Knutsen
John Gerring
Svend-Erik Skaaning
Jan Teorell
Matthew Maguire
Michael Coppedge
Staffan I. Lindberg
Published in European Journal of Political Research
Volume 58
Issue 1
Pages 292-314
ISSN 0304-4130
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
V-Dem Institute
Pages 292-314
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


Scholars continue to debate whether economic development affects regime type. This article argues that a clear relationship exists between development and the electoral component of democracy, but not – or at least less so – between development and other components of broader understandings of democracy. This is so because development enhances the power resources of citizens and 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‐centred indicators are robustly associated with economic development. This may help to account for apparent inconsistencies across extant studies and shed light on the mechanisms at work in a much‐studied relationship. Further analysis shows that development affects electoral democracy by reducing electoral fraud, election violence and vote buying.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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