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Determinants of Democracy

Robert J. Barro
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 107, No. S6 (December 1999), pp. S158-S183
DOI: 10.1086/250107
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/250107
Page Count: 26
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Determinants of Democracy
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Abstract

A panel study of over 100 countries from 1960 to 1995 finds that improvements in the standard of living predict increase in democracy, as measured by a subjective indicator of electoral rights. The propensity for democracy rises with per capita GDP, primary schooling, and a smaller gap between male and female primary attainment. For a given standard of living, democaracy tends to fall with urbnization and with a greater reliance on natrual resources. Democracy has little relation to country size but rises with the middle‐class share of income. The apparently strong relation of democracy to colonial heritage mostly disappears when the economic variables are held constant. Similarly, the allowance for these economic variables weakens the interplay between democracy and religious affiliation. However, negative effects from Muslim and non‐religious affiliations remain intact.

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