The Effects of Democracy on Economic Growth and Inequality: A review

  • Larry Sirowy
  • Alex Inkeles
On Measuring Democracy


What effects does political democracy have on such development outcomes as economic growth and socioeconomic equality? Competing theoretical models have been proposed that represent each of the possibilities: democracy as facilitating development, democracy as a hindrance to development, and democracy as bearing no independent relationship to development outcomes. Each of these theoretical models is explicated and, then, the evidence from quantitative, cross-national tests of the effects is reviewed. Overall, the evidence provided by the approximately dozen studies for each outcome yields few robust conclusions with respect to the theoretical models. To guide in the evaluation of the evidence, the studies are in turn distinguished by such design characteristics as sample, period observed, measures used, and form of relationship specified. This procedure, while it does not produce definitive support for any of the models, does assist in interpreting the results of past research as well as generating fertile guidelines for future research.


Income Inequality Comparative International Development Civil Liberty American Sociological Review Voter Turnout 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry Sirowy
  • Alex Inkeles
    • 1
  1. 1.Hoover InstitutionStanford UniversityStanford

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