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Democratization James Robinson Harvard University.

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1 Democratization James Robinson Harvard University

2 Basic Questions How do we measure democracy? Why are some countries democracies and others not? In what circumstances will a non-democratic regime become a democracy? In what circumstances will it stay a democracy (will democracy consolidate)?

3 Measuring Democracy Schumpeter (1950, p. 250) argued that democracy was: “the institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote.” One measure is the Polity index, which is the difference between Polity’s Democracy and Autocracy indices. Democracy Index ranges from 0 to 10 and is derived from coding the competitiveness of political participation, the openness and competitiveness of executive recruitment and constraints on the chief executive. The Polity Autocracy Index also ranges from 0 to 10 and is constructed in a similar way to the democracy score. I normalize the index to be between 0 and 1.



6 A Big Fact

7 A Simple Framework Two groups in society, the citizens and the elite. Dictatorship is rule of the elite. Many sorts of elites. Policy (say income redistribution) in a dictatorship tends to favor the elite, but democracy would favor the citizens. If citizens are relatively poor they favor redistribution, while elites oppose it. This implies the elite prefer dictatorship while citizens prefer democracy.

8 Figure 1. Preferences over Income Redistribution Redistribution Today Redistribution Tomorrow Citizens better off in this direction Elite better off in this direction UcUc UeUe

9 Social Conflict If there is dictatorship and the elite do not like democracy how can democracy ever come about? Even in dictatorship the citizens can riot, strike, even threaten revolution. I can conceptualize this as a revolution constraint that the elite must satisfy. To keep the citizens contented (under control?) the elite must give them favors today and also promise them in the future. There are limits to how much they can credibly promise.

10 Figure 2. When Redistribution satisfies the Revolution Constraint Redistribution Today Redistribution Tomorrow URUR UeUe TcTc TcTc T max C C The Maximum Credible amount of redistribution is enough to avoid revolution T*T*

11 Democratization If elite cannot buy off (avoid a revolution) the citizens with redistribution they can repress them or give away their power – democratize. Which they do depends on which is less costly for them. Imagine there is a cost of repression k, then democracy arises when the utility of the elite from democratization is greater than from repression: U eD ≥ U eO -k.

12 Figure 3. When Redistribution cannot satisfy the Revolution Constraint Redistribution Today Redistribution Tomorrow URUR U eD TcTc T max C C TcTc U cO U eO Indifference curve of elite Corresponding to democracy

13 Comparative Statics These generate the predictions of the model and help us to understand when democratization will take place. Example: imagine inequality increases, then citizens want more redistribution in democracy, democracy gets worse for the elite, therefore they a more inclined to repress.

14 Figure 4. Some Comparative Statics of the Model Redistribution Today Redistribution Tomorrow URUR U eD TcTc C C TcTc U cO U eO U eD (new) T c (new)

15 Back to the Data What are the implications for the Big Fact and the Modernization hypothesis? Why are rich countries more democratic than poor countries? The model does not imply that higher income per-capita induces democratization. It does imply however that there is a natural affinity between poverty and dictatorship. For instance, if property rights are insecure, investment is low, society will be poor, but also huge benefits from being in power and greater incentives to avoid democracy by using repression.

16 In Fact as Incomes rise 1970-1995 societies do not seem to become more democratic

17 Even over a longer period

18 But if we go far enough back it must happen

19 Modernization So is the modernization hypothesis right, but with a huge lag? Not necessarily. The model suggests that factors that lead to low incomes lead to dictatorship, while factors that lead to high incomes lead to democracy. What factors? More basic ways in which society is organized – compare the history of North and Latin America. So democracy and income co-evolve but income does not cause democracy.

20 Taking into account the historical determinants of development paths

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