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Democratic Transitions


Epstein, Kristensen, and O'Halloran: Department of Political Science, Columbia University; Bates: Department of Government, Harvard University; Goldstone: School of Public Policy, George Mason University.


Przeworski et al. (2000) challenge the key hypothesis in modernization theory: political regimes do not transition to democracy as per capita incomes rise, they argue. Rather, democratic transitions occur randomly, but once there, countries with higher levels of GDP per capita remain democratic. We retest the modernization hypothesis using new data, new techniques, and a three-way rather than dichotomous classification of regimes. Contrary to Przeworski et al. (2000) we find that the modernization hypothesis stands up well. We also find that partial democracies emerge as among the most important and least understood regime types.

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