Democracy and the Violation of Human Rights: A Statistical Analysis from 1976 to 1996

Authors


  • The authors would like to thank Mark Lichbach, Mike Ward, William Jacoby, Will Moore, Simon Jackman, Harold Clarke, Scott Bennett, and three anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and helpful suggestions.

Christian Davenport is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland and Director of the Radical Information Project, 3140 Tydings Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742-7231 (cdavenport@gvpt.umd.edu; http://www.cdavenport.com). David A. Armstrong II is a doctoral candidate of Political Science at the University of Maryland, 3140 Tydings Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742-7231 (darmstrong@gvpt.umd.edu).

Abstract

Most studies posit and identify a linear and negative relationship between democracy and the violation of human rights. Some research challenges this finding, however, suggesting that nonlinear influences exist. Within this article, we examine the structure of the relationship between democracy and repression during the time period from 1976 to 1996. To conduct our analysis, we utilize diverse statistical approaches which are particularly flexible in identifying influences that take a variety of functional forms (specifically LOESS and binary decomposition). Across measures and methodological techniques, we found that below a certain level, democracy has no impact on human rights violations, but above this level democracy influences repression in a negative and roughly linear manner. The implications of this research are discussed within the conclusion.

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