Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 7 No. 3 (Summer 1993)


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The Impact of Economic Development on Democracy

Article Citation

Huber, Evelyne, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and John D. Stephens. 1993. "The Impact of Economic Development on Democracy." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(3): 71-86.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.3.71


Any account of the social and economic conditions of democracy must come to terms with the central finding of the cross-national statistical research: a sturdy (though not perfect) association between economic development and democracy. To tackle these questions of causation, we adopted a strategy of analytic induction based on comparative historical research. Our program of comparative historical research confirmed the conclusion of the cross-national statistical analyses of the correlates of political democracy: the level of economic development is causally related to the development of political democracy. However, the underlying reason for the connection, in our view, is that capitalist development transforms the class structure, enlarging the working and middle classes and facilitating their self-organization, thus making it more difficult for elites to exclude them politically. Simultaneously, development weakens the landed upper class, democracy's most consistent opponent.

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Huber, Evelyne (U NC)
Rueschemeyer, Dietrich (Brown U)
Stephens, John D. (U NC)

JEL Classifications

O10: Economic Development: General
D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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