Cultural and economic prerequisites of democracy: Reassessing recent evidence
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The purpose of this article is to reassess two influential theories of democratic development: the theory of democratic culture and the theory of economic development. The leading predecessors in each domain—Ronald Inglehart and Adam Przeworski—are the prime targets of analysis. We take issue with recent evidence presented by these authors on three grounds: the evidence (1) confuses “basic” criteria of democracy with possible “quality” criteria (Inglehart); (2) conceptualizes democracy in dichotomous rather than continuous terms (Przeworski); and (3) fails to account for endogeneity and contingent effects (Inglehart). In correcting for these shortcomings, we present striking results. In the case of democratic culture, the theory lacks support; neither overt support for democracy nor “self-expression values” affect democratic development. In the case of economic development, earlier findings must be refined. Although the largest impact of modernization is found among more democratized countries, we also find an effect among “semi-democracies.”
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