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The breakdown of democracies has long been associated with poor economic performance. This study attempts to determine whether different configurations of democratic institutions can mediate the effects of poor economic performance. Using an original data set that includes all democracies from the period 1919 to 1995, we use continuous-time duration analysis to test hypotheses derived from the literature on democratization. Specifically, we test the interaction of party system and the configuration of legislative and executive power (parliamentarism and presidentialism) with economic performance to explain the likelihood of breakdown. Results suggest that majoritarian variants of democracy are more resistant to economic contraction than pluralist ones. Under conditions of economic growth, pluralist democracies outperform majoritarian ones.