This study systematically addresses an important yet neglected question pertaining to the potentially time-varying effects of economic development on political democracy…
This study systematically addresses an important yet neglected question pertaining to the potentially time-varying effects of economic development on political democracy. Building on Huntington's insightful observations of alternating “waves” and “reverse waves” of democracy in world history, we deduce research hypotheses subject to empirical falsification and find, through a systematic analysis of the experiences of 87 countries from the 1960s to 1990s, that the impact of economic development on democracy shifted from the well-known U-shaped relationship to an inverted U-curve. These shifts occurred around 1980, a time point that corresponds to Diamond's classification of the end of the “second reverse wave” and beginning of the “third wave” of democratization. The finding thus demonstrates that the “wavy” progression of democracy in the world reflects historically changing dynamics of economic development and their impacts on political democracy over time.
Mandi Bane is a Ph.D. candidate, in the Department of Sociology, University of Michigan. Her areas of academic interest are social change, globalization, race and ethnicity, comparative-historical and ethnographic methods, social movements, and Latin America. Her dissertation is a multiscalar, historically grounded study of indigenous social movement organizations in Ecuador that contributes to the literature on multiculturalism, development, cultural citizenship, radical democracy, and neoliberalism.