This article tests for the existence of the political replacement effect, as suggested by Acemoglu and Robinson: [American Political Science Review, Vol. 100, pp. 115–131]. They argue that the implementation of market-oriented reform is crucially driven by the political calculus of incumbent governments: they implement economic policy change if such a choice is not expected to reduce their chances to retain power. This implies a non-monotonic relationship between the level of political competition and the extent of economic reform. We test this hypothesis using data for 102 countries over the period 1980 to 2005. Our results strongly support the theory.