Adam Przeworski, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi. Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
The book proceeds with a dichotomous classification of regimes: democracies and dictatorships. Its aim is to know if holding repeated elections induces governmental accountability, if participation generates equality, if freedom imbues political systems with rationality.
The focus of the definition of "democracy" in this book is contestation, which entails three features:
1) ex-ante uncertainty - there is a positive probability that at least one member of the incumbent coalition will lose a particular round of elections.
2) ex-post irreversibility - election winner is allowed to assume office.
Contestation distinguishes between regimes that allow some regularized competition among conflicting visions and interests and regimes in which some values or interests enjoy a monopoly buttressed by the treat or the actual use of force; a democracy is a regime in which those who govern are selected through contested elections.
In operationalizing democracy, the chief executive office and the seats in the effective legislative body should be filled, directly or indirectly, by elections and the authority of those elected should not be constrained by those who are not. There must also be more than one party. But elections are not a sufficient condition for democracy because some dictators might hold elections only when they know they will win and hence appear to be a democracy when in reality they would be unwilling to give up power if they were to lose in an election.
- The rule of alternation: if the previous conditions for democracy are satisfied, if in the immediate past the incumbents either held or hold office by virtue of elections for more than two terms or initially held office without being elected, and if the incumbents subsequently held but never lost elections, they are not considered democracies.
Democracies are distinguished as parliamentary, mixed, or presidential.
- In parliamentary systems, the government requires the confidence of the legislature and the legislative assembly can dismiss the government.
- In presidential systems, the government serves at the pleasure of the elected president.
- In mixed systems, the president is elected for a fixed term and has some executive powers, but the government serves at the discretion of the parliament.
Dictatorships are distinguished as mobilizing or exclusionary, according to the number of formal powers (executives, legislatures, and parties), and by whether rules are codified and announced.
- "Mobilizing" dictatorships organize permanent political participation through a single/dominant party. Operationally, they are dictatorships with at least one political party.
- "Exclusionary" dictatorships do not promote any kind of political participation by the masses and only require that individuals act against the regime. Operationally, they are dictatorships without any parties.
- A "divided" dictatorship has a chief executive coupled with a legislature or party.
- A "monolithic" dictatorship has no legislatures or parties.
- "Bureaucracies" are dictatorships that have some internal rules for operating the government and some external rules, namely, laws. Operationally, they are regimes with legislatures.
- "Autocracies", sultanistic or despotic regimes, have no internal rules or operation or publicly announced universalistic intentions. Operationally, they are regimes without legislatures.
Factors that predict regime types:
1) Level of economic development, as measured by per capita income, is the best predictor of political regimes
2) Political legacies of a country - whether the country became independent after 1945 and whether or not it was a British colony
3) The political history of the country - the number of transitions to authoritarianism
4) Religious structure of the country - proportion of Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims in the population
5) Ethnolinguistic and religious fractionalization - probability that two randomly chosen individuals will not belong to the same group
6) International political environment - proportion of other democracies in the world during the particular year
Effect of the Level of Economic Development on Transitions
There is little evidence that the level of economic development endogenously affects democratization (modernization theory). Even if modernization may generate conflicts over democracy, the outcomes of such conflicts are open-ended.
Wealth does make democracies more stable, but independently of education because while at each income level the probability of democracy failing decreases with increasing education, at each level of education the probability of democracy dying decreases with income.
Democracies are more likely to be found in the more highly developed countries, but not because democracies are more likely to emerge when countries develop under authoritarianism, but rather that they are more likely to survive in countries that are already developed.
Regime transitions occur under a wide variety of circumstances. Neither economic crises nor waves of political mobilization are sufficient to bring regimes down.
Democracies never die in wealthy countries. But all the evidence presented indicates that democracies in poorer countries are more likely to die when they experience economic crises than when their economies grow. Dictatorships die under more varied economic circumstances and it appears that economic circumstances have little to do with the deaths of dictatorships.
Income Inequality and Regime Stability
Their evidence suggests that democracies are more stable in more egalitarian societies and the durability of dictatorships is unaffected by income distribution.
Changes in absolute income levels matter more for the stability of both regime types than do changes in the overall distribution or the income shares of particular groups.
Both regime types are slightly less stable when the share of the top 20 percent increases. Only democracies are somewhat less stable when the income share of the bottom 40 percent declines. (Both regimes are threatened when the rich get relatively richer, but only democracy is vulnerable when the poor get relatively poorer.)
There is no evidence that egalitarian pressures threaten the survival of democracy. Democracies are less stable in societies that are more unequal to begin with, in societies in which household income inequality increases, and in societies in which labor receives a lower share of value added in manufacturing. Dictatorships, particularly in poorer countries, are much more vulnerable when the functional distribution of income is more unequal.
Economic Factors in Their Cultural, Social, and Political Context on Transitions
Variables and their respective findings:
1) The impact of per capita income (lagged), treated linearly, is apparent for both regimes, but is orders of magnitude larger for democracies.
2) The rate of economic growth matters for the stability of both regimes, but less so for democracies. Both are less likely to die when growth is faster.
3) Inter-regime instability, accumulated turnover of chief executives (lagged), has an important impact on the stability of both regimes when it is introduced linearly into the analysis. Both regimes are more likely to die when they experience frequent changes of heads of government.
4) Democracies are less stable in countries that are religiously heterogeneous. Ethnolinguistic fractionalization (a measure of ethnic heterogeneity) is statistically significant when considered alone, but plays no role when religious fractionalization is introduced.
5) Colonial legacy has little effect on regime stability when controlling for other factors, such as income level.
6) Past instability measured by transitions affects the changes the current regime, democratic or non-democratic, will survive or die. The effect of instability is three times larger for democracies.
7) The international political climate has an impact on the stability of democracies, but no effect on transitions to democracy. The probability that once established a democracy will die is lower when many countries in the world are democratic. But the probability that a democracy will be established does not depend on the proportion of democratic countries relative to non-democratic countries in the world.
The level of economic development, economic performance, past regime instability, and leadership turnover explain almost all of transitions.
Democratic Institutions and the Sustainability of Democracy
Parliamentary systems generally have greater longevity than presidential systems. However, parliamentary democracies are more likely to dissolve in response to economic crises (especially in poorer countries) and as sensitive to economic expansion as presidential systems.
Presidential systems are more vulnerable than parliamentary systems when they lack clear majorities in the legislature.
Presidential systems are more brittle under all economic and political conditions.
Effect of Political Regimes on Economic Growth
When investment is measured by the average share of investment in gross domestic product or in terms of the rate of growth of capital stock, regimes have generally no effect on investment; democracy does not under undermine investment. However, when considering wealthier countries, capital stock growth is slightly higher under dictatorships.
The labor force grows faster under wealthy dictatorships than in wealthy democracies.
Steady-state rates of growth are the same under both regimes.
Political regimes have no impact on the rate of growth of total income.
Poor and Wealthy Countries
Government capital expenditures have no effect on growth in poor countries, but have a positive effect in wealthy countries, probably because the complementarity between private investment and public investment, the latter largely in infrastructure, increases as the private capital stock increases.
Poor countries are too poor to afford a strong state and without an effective state, regime makes little difference for economic development.
Growth in wealthy dictatorships is labor-extensive and labor-exploitative; they benefit little from technical progress, get most of their growth from capital, and in spite of employing more workers, get less from labor.
Wealthy democracies benefit from technical progress, get less growth out of capital, and more per unit of labor input.
In the end, total output grows at the same rate under the two regiems, both in poor countries and in wealthier countries--in poor countries, regimes do not matter; in wealthier countries, their average growth rates are the same but the patterns of growth are different.
Contemporaneous Political Upheavals
Changes in heads of government adversely effect investment in dictatorships, but not democracies.
Socio-political unrest characterized by strikes, anti-government demonstrations, and riots are more common in democracies, but reduce growth only in dictatorships.
Wars are more frequent and devastating under dictatorships, but dictatorships recover faster from the destruction they cause.
Regime transitions are accompanied by economic crises that are deep but short-lived.
Unless the changes heads of government or regime in the past increase the probability of such changes in the future, but unless they are extreme in number, they have no effect on present rates of growth.
Threats to dictators cause economic performance to deteriorate, whereas similar threats to democratic chief executives have no effect. This might be because investors anticipate that rulers with a high probability of being forced out of office will maximize rents before they leave and that those with a low probability of leaving extract low rents to maximize their changes of staying in power.
Observed rates of population growth are higher under dictatorship at each level of per capita income.
Democracies have lower mortality and birth rates. Mortality rates in dictatorships are higher, but only they have provide fewer public goods (education, health) and have lower social expenditures. (The question is whether social spending is endogenous to regime type. If it is endogenous, then that indicates differences in morality are inherently the result of regimes.)
Differences in birth rates for different regimes are the result of differences in fertility rates, not age structures. People in dictatorships may choose to have more children because dictatorships are less durable than democracies and children are the least risky asset that people can accumulate.
Because the difference in birth rates is larger than that in death rates, population grows slower under democracies, matched with dictatorships for exogenous conditions. And because the difference between regimes in population growth is larger than the difference in growth of total output, per capita incomes grow faster under democracy.
Additional summary by Zack
Steinert-Threlkeld, Zachary – POLI 200B, Democracy
Author (2000): Adam Przeworski
The Point: Four main lessons (273-274). First, the probability that a democracy replaces a dictatorship is random with regard to income, but the odds that the democracy survives increases steeply and monotonically with income, with $4,000 being the level above which democracy almost always survives. Second, growth rates under each regime type were nearly identical. Third, population grows faster under dictatorship once you control for income. Fourth, wealthier countries fight much less often, and wars, overall, do not have long-term economic effects.
Lit Review: Democratization, development
Chapter One: Democracies and Dictatorships
The purpose of this chapter to classify regimes based on political theory, “observables”, distinction between systematic and random errors, and “more extensive coverage”. Seeking a minimalist definition, the authors focus on contestation (Dahl’s term) and seek to distinguish between regimes with some limited regular competition and those without; contestation means there is an opposition with a chance of winning office, which entails three features: ex-ante uncertainty, ex-post irreversibility, and repeatability. The last point means that a regime is not democratic after only one election. “Thus ‘democracy,’ for us, is a regime in which those who govern are selected through contested elections.”
Regime means the “system of relations between the civil society and state”. There rules for classifying regimes are: 1. The chief executive must be elected; 2. The lower house of a legislature must be elected; 3. There must be more than one party; 4. There must be altneration (this last one isn’t mentioned until page 27). A dictatorship is a regime where there were no parties, there was only one party, the incumbents’ term eneds with a no-party or one-party rule, or the incumbents suspend the legislature and rewrite the rules in their favor. These rules cover 91.8% of country-years. These rules are repeated, with fancy sounding “variable” names, on pages 28-29.
One must further distinguish within democracies and dictatorships. Democracies are parliamentary, mixed, or presidential. Dictatorships are distinguished by their degree of mobilization/exclusion, with the former promoting mass participation; amount of formal powers; and whether the government has clear rules it uses or not. Starting on page 33, the authors discuss features they did not include.
Big charts pages 37-39 detailing counts of states from 1950-1990 and their regime type. A graph on page 41 shows that the number of democracies reached a nadir from ~1966-1977 (largely because decolonized states tended to emerge into authoritarian systems) and climbed steadily through 1990. They also look at correlation between transitions to and from democracy and find a nearly zero correlation, leading them to conclude that “Huntington’s oceanic metaphor is only that.” There’s then a lot of discussion about duration from pages 51-53.
Appendix 1.1. starts on page 55 and discusses alternate measures of democracy. Appendix 1.2 starts on page 59 and is a large chart showing countries and their regimes from 1950-1990. Appendix 1.3 starts on page 69 and gives basic information on regimes’ transitions. Appendix 1.4 is on page 77 and explains their “short” data base; it excludes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE because fuel (oil?) constituted more than 50% of total exports.
Chapter Two: Economic Development and Political Regimes
One can predict 77.5% of their 4,126 observation’s regimes looking only at per capita income. Table 2.2 on pages 84-86 detail the countries their model predicts incorrectly.
There are two main reasons democracy and development may correlate: the standard development story (endogenous) or democracies are more likely to survive in developed countries (exogenous). The endogenous story (pg 88) is modernization theory, so democracy is a natural outcome. On the other hand, regimes in poor countries could be likely to switch to the other type, and it’s only as the income level is higher that the probability of switching to authoritarianism increases; this story is the exogenous one.
Descriptive tables 2.3 and 2.4 (page 93 and 95 respectively) lead the authors to support Huntington (1968)’s observation of a bell-shaped pattern of instability: autocracies are stable at low and high levels of development. Contra modernization theory, table 2.5 (page 96) shows non-oil countries which reached a high level of income under authoritarian regimes. (Nice example of Taiwanese dictatorship’s death using basic probability theory.)
They find that wealth does make democracies more stable and find no evidence for consolidation (positive feedback loops for democratic stability); page 99. Table 2.8 (pg 104-105) describes countries with democracy before 1950. We see the development- democracy correlation because democracies are more stable in developed countries; the authors treat its emergence as given
Tables 2.9, 2.10, and 2.11 lead the authors to conclude that wealth is not necessary for regime survival; what matters is economic growth, with democratic regimes more sensitive to downturns in it. Dictatorships basically face the same survival odds regardless of economic growth rates. More tables (pages 113-116) lead them to conclude that, once we consider political mobilization, we can only rarely tell definitively when a regime’s death is due to economic reasons. Those deaths are infrequent enough that the authors’ variables are not robust to most regime deaths. What they do conclusively conclude is that “democracies never die in wealthy countries” and “economic circumstances have little to do with the death of dictatorships” (pg 117).
Both regimes are threatened when the rich get richer, but only democracies are threatened when the poor get poorer; both regimes are more likely to die when average welfare is taken into account (this corrects for income skewed one way or another) (121-122).
For democracy, change of rule promote stability; in dictatorship, it’s the other way around (123-125). Regime transitions, no matter the type, are more frequent in heterogenous societies. The only religious effect they find is that Democracies are more likely to survive in Catholic countries; Protestantism and Islam have no effect. The only variables that are robust - consistently significant across models - are level of development, leadership turnover, and past regime instability. They then say that “the level of economic development, economic performance, past regime instability, and leadership turnover tell almost all of the story” (pg 128). (I’m not sure why they put four factors in that sentence but identify only three as robust.)
Democracy type and survival rates and lengths (pg 129-136). They conclude the chapter saying that they fail to find any threshold at which democracy emerges: “modernization theory appears to have little, if any, explanatory power”. But, given only per capita income, the survival of democracies is pretty predictable, meaning we don’t know why democracies emerge but we know why they last in wealthy countries (pg 136). (Well, we don’t really. The authors still have not provided any theories.)
Appendix 2.1 details their dynamic probit model. Appendix 2.2. details their survival models.
Chapter Three: Political Regimes and Economic Growth
Controlling for income (and other variables), regime type has no overall effect on investment rates (pg 146 and charts 147-149). If we measure capital stock, we see a difference in favor of dictatorships above income levels of $3000; the same is true with the growth rate of the labor force. Testing with different regression methods gives the same result.
Their logic for poor states, those with less than $3000 in per capita income: poor countries can’t afford strong states, and in weak states regime type doesn’t matter (163-164). Above the $3,000 threshold, regimes do make a difference in allocation, productivity, and income; but the difference is in patterns, not in income growth. For example, dictatorships have larger labor force participation but lower output per worker. Looking at labor’s share of manufacturing value added, the authors find that it is significantly higher in democracies, supporting the idea that dictatorships extract more rents from labor (pg 168-170 and Table 3.8b). Another way of explaining the relationship is that growth under dictatorships is labor extensive and labor intensive, with income reduced further through predation. “Dictatorships repress workers, exploit them, and use them carelessly. Democracies allow workers to fight for their interests, pay them better, and employ them better” (pg 176).
The variance in growth rates is also much higher in authoritarian regimes than in democracies; high performers tend do not be that way for long (175-178).
Conclusion: “there is little difference in favor of dictatorships in the observed rates of growth” and “poverty appears to leave no room for politics”.
Appendix 3.1 (Identification, Specification, and Robustness) starts on page 179 and details their model selection.
Chapter Four: Political Instability and Economic Growth
In democracy, changes of heads of government do not affect growth; in dictatorships, they do (pg 191-192). Democracies feature more strikes, demonstrations, and riots than dictatorships, but they only affect growth in the latter. Regardless of regime type, instability (regime changes and change of heads of regime during reign) only affects growth in the most extreme cases; this pattern is an instability, not poverty, trap since growth almost always stays the same.
The authors find that threats to a regime of losing power do not affect economic growth, but threats to dictators cause performance to deteriorate (pg 202-204 and Table 4.5). They cannot tell the pathways of this effect though.
While it may seem counterintuitive, threats to leaders do not lead to lower investment. They do lead to lower output, however. The logic is that leaders can’t transform fixed assets into liquid form (send it to bank accounts overseas) and wealthy people may prefer investments as a way of protecting their liquid assets. Since leaders can seize output very easily, we expect to see output decrease (page 205-206).
Basically, dictatorships are more sensitive to perturbations than democracies.
Appendix 4.1 details their model used in this chapter.
Chapter Five: Political Regimes and Population
Under dictatorships, population grows at 2.42% per year; under democracies, 1.49. Table 5.1A shows this growth while controlling for income. Table 5.1B (pg 232) shows that even with more controls and fancier models, the pattern holds: dictatorships have higher pop. growth at all levels of income, with a more pronounced difference starting at GDP of $2500/year/person.
Decomposing population rates further, the authors find that democracies actually have lower death rates, but those are mitigated by lower birth rates as well (226, Table 5.3B), with a possible exception for democracies under $1,000 of GDP per capita and dictatorships over $5,000 of GDP per capita. So dictatorships’ higher population rates come from birth rates that are higher by a higher amount than death rates under democracies. And lives are shorter under dictatorships.
Switching from dictatorship to democracy decreases mortality and birthrates. This pattern is not driven by time (worldwide declines in these rates over time) because they show a reversal when regimes switch from democracy to dictatorship (pg 231-233).
Shit about deaths, infant mortality, and life expectancy (235-241). In democracies, contraceptive use is more prevalent than in dictatorships (244-245). Variables for their fertility model (248-251). Labor force participation by women (251). Some theoretical explanations for the higher fertility rates in dictatorship: more uncertain political and economic future and less clear social safety net (pg 256).
Conclusion on page 264-265. Appendix 5.1 details their construction of regimes’ age structure.
IVs from page 81: per capita income (1985 PPP dollars); dummy for independence after 1945; dummy for whether or not it was a British colony in 1919; number of past transitions to authoritarianism; proportions of Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims (construction of variable not clear); probability that two random individuals will not belong to the same group (measures ethnolinguistic and religious fractionalization); proportion of other democracies in the world that year.
Design: Primarly probit
Estimation: Occurs throughout
Poverty matters, and countries can develop under either regime type. Therefore, “we do not find a shred of evidence that democracy need be sacrificed on the altar of development” (pg 271). Income growth rates are the same, with the only difference being income inequality. Higher population growth rates in dictatorships are due to higher fertility, but they can’t conclusively say why dictatorships cause higher fertility.
They summarize their four main lessons (273-274). First, the probability that a democracy replaces a dictatorship is random with regard to income, but the odds that the democracy survives increases steeply and monotonically with income, with $4,000 being the level above which democracy almost always survives. Second, growth rates under each regime type were nearly identical. Third, population grows faster under dictatorship once you control for income. Fourth, wealthier countries fight much less often, and wars, overall, do not have long-term economic effects.
A few notes on this outline:
1. Point vs Conclusion: The point is the author's essential claim—the direction in which he's trying to push the debate. The conclusion is the specific inference he draws from his data. Obviously, these overlap. Often the conclusion is a subset of the point.
2. Lit Review: This is not just a recap of the lit review in the paper. (Remember, the author wrote his lit review strategically!) It's about placing the article into a larger debate. You may have to skip the Lit Review if you don't know how to fit the article into broader trends in the literature. By the way, one of the more fruitful questions to ask your professors is "how would you place this in the larger debates in the literature? Is this part of any particular school of thought?"
3. If you’re summarizing an article for your classmates, read that article last. The other assigned readings often help to provide context for understanding the point and the lit review.
4. Put your name on all your outlines! That way when you prep for comps and you have questions, you know whom to ask. Taking ownership of your summaries also encourages you to make them good.
5. Core Analogy: The analogy is essentially the premise. Sometimes this is obvious, but often it's tricky. Even correlational studies often rely on analogies, for example, if the argument is "legislators get paid more in Europe than in the US," maybe the analogy is something like "politicians are like ordinary employees; their published wage is an important part of compensation." Often making the analogy concrete helps you see flaws in the argument. In the above example, you may decide after identifying the employee analogy that politicians are more like entrepreneurs in their incentive structure and goals, so that published salaries don't capture the compensation of legislators.
Not every analogy is unique to the article it appears in. A lot of articles assume that policy is like a choice of points on the number line, with individuals' preferences decreasing monotonically with distance from their ideal point. (The Black/Downs model takes this analogy from Hotelling, who uses it to describe two competing shops trying to pick locations on a single street.)