Daron Acemoğlu, Suresh Naidu, James Robinson, Pascual Restrepo, 15 December 2017

Daniel Treisman, 26 November 2017

Most research on the transition to democracy tries to explain why autocrats choose to democratise. Based on two centuries of data on democratisation, this column argues, however, that autocratic rulers overwhelmingly create democracies by mistake. Taking these mistakes into account during analysis may improve the predictive or explanatory power of existing models.

Julia Ruiz Pozuelo, Amy Slipowitz, Guillermo Vuletin, 30 September 2016

The debate over whether democracy causes economic prosperity and growth dates back millennia. Recent empirical results suggest that democratisation has a sizable positive effect on economic growth, but endogeneity and reverse causality may be driving these results. This column uses new data from surveys of democracy experts to solve the endogeneity puzzle. The positive association between democracy and economic growth is a reflection of economic turmoil causing the emergence of democratic rule, rather than democracy causing more economic growth.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Gérard Roland, 14 May 2015

Social science studies usually explain democratisation of countries with the increase in incomes. In contrast, this column argues that culture is a neglected but important determinant of democracy. The findings show that countries with individualist culture democratise earlier than collectivist cultures that may remain stuck for a long time with relatively efficient autocracies.

Toke Aidt, Gabriel Leon, Raphael Franck, Peter Jensen, 08 January 2015

Some theories suggest that the threat of revolution plays a pivotal role in democratisation. This column provides new evidence in support of this hypothesis. The authors use democratic transitions from Europe in the 19th century, Africa at the turn at the 20th century, and the Great Reform Act of 1832 in Great Britain. They find that credible threats of revolution have systematically triggered pre-emptive democratic reforms throughout history.

Elias Papaioannou, Gregorios Siourounis, 25 October 2008

Cross-country comparisons have produced little evidence that democracy improves economic growth. This column summarises research using within-country comparisons over time to show that democratising countries realise higher long-run growth after the volatile transition period. Democracy’s value may lie in its dynamic aspects.

Antonio Ciccone, 28 February 2008

According to theory, demands for democratic change are more likely to be realised during economic downturns, which lower the cost of overthrowing autocrats. This column presents empirical evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa suggesting that recessions may indeed open a window of opportunity for democratisation.

Daron Acemoğlu, Simon Johnson, James Robinson, Pierre Yared, 20 August 2007

Why are some societies democratic, others not? Why do some societies develop modern effective nation states, while others do not? Why do some societies experience revolutions, while others undertake more gradual change? And finally, why are some relatively prosperous, while others are not?

Pauline Grosjean, Claudia Senik, 23 August 2007

Empirical evidence based on an innovative new dataset suggests that democracy generates some popular support for the market, but economic liberalisation does not clearly enhance the support for democracy.