We are grateful to Daron Acemoglu, Steven Berry, Masayuki Kudamatsu, and four referees for their helpful comments. Ciccone gratefully acknowledges research support from the Barcelona GSE, CREI, FEDEA-BBVA, and Spanish Ministry of Science Grants SEJ2007-64340 and ECO2008-02779.
Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity
Article first published online: 4 MAY 2011
© 2011 The Econometric Society
Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 923–947, May 2011
How to Cite
Brückner, M. and Ciccone, A. (2011), Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity. Econometrica, 79: 923–947. doi: 10.3982/ECTA8183
- Issue published online: 4 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 4 MAY 2011
- Manuscript received October, 2008; final revision received May, 2010.
- transitory economic shocks
We show that democratic change may be triggered by transitory economic shocks. Our approach uses within-country variation in rainfall as a source of transitory shocks to sub-Saharan African economies. We find that negative rainfall shocks are followed by significant improvement in democratic institutions. This result is consistent with the economic approach to political transitions, where transitory negative shocks can open a window of opportunity for democratic improvement. Instrumental variables estimates indicate that following a transitory negative income shock of 1 percent, democracy scores improve by 0.9 percentage points and the probability of a democratic transition increases by 1.3 percentage points.