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Chapter

This chapter addresses the relationship between economic factors and democracy. It begins with a discussion of modernization theory and highlights the disagreement about whether wealth causes democracy or simply makes it more likely to endure. Despite this dispute, most scholars agree that development is good for democracy. The chapter then examines the pathways through which economic development affects democracy, including via education levels, the middle class, organized labour, and values and beliefs. In addition to levels of development, research also shows that changes in economic growth influence democracy. Economic crises can be destabilizing, especially for young democracies. Finally, the chapter considers research on economic inequality and democracy, which is inconclusive in its findings about whether a relationship between the two exists. It also studies how clientelism constitutes significant barriers to democratic consolidation.

Chapter

This chapter details the factors that increase the prospects of authoritarian regime failure. In-depth accounts of the downfall of specific authoritarian regimes show that it is most often a confluence of risk factors that bring down regimes. It is important to underscore that problems in dictatorships may persist for years without leading to breakdown. Authoritarian regimes can and often do persist in the face of elite divisions and defections, poor socio-economic conditions, corruption, and demographic challenges such as youth bulges. Such long-term factors increase a regime's risk of collapse by reducing a government's resilience to other short-term factors that often initiate its downfall. These short-term ‘triggering events’ include economic crises, fraudulent elections, and natural disasters. The chapter then considers how external forces—such as foreign aid, sanctions, and diffusion—can cause authoritarian breakdown.