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Keywords:

  • China;
  • economic development;
  • modernization;
  • social class;
  • working class

Over the past several decades, modernization theory has offered much insight into the conditions necessary for a democratic transition. Proponents of this theory suggest that a link exists between economic development and a democratic transition. Economic development leads to a stronger middle class that develops a greater interest in politics and places demands upon the government, which may lead to regime concessions and an eventual democratic transition. Emerging research, however, suggests there is a link between economic development and the increase in the interest in politics within the working class. This study seeks to answer the question of how economic development impacts interest in politics across social classes in modern authoritarian states. I use ordered logistical regression to test hypotheses derived from these propositions. The results have important implications for understanding the relationship between economic development and political development.