Gassebner, Martin Lamla, Michael J. Vreeland, James Raymond
Year of Publication:
KOF working papers // KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich 224
There are many stories of democracy but little consensus over which variables robustly determine its emergence and survival. We apply extreme bounds analysis to test the robustness of 59 factors proposed in the literature, evaluating over 3 million regressions. The most robust determinants of the transition to democracy are GDP growth (a negative effect), past transitions (a positive effect), and OECD membership (a positive effect). There is some evidence that fuel exporters and Muslim countries are less likely to see democracy emerge, although the latter finding is driven entirely by oil producing Muslim countries. Regarding the survival of democracy, the most robust determinants are GDP per capita (a positive effect) and past transitions (a negative effect). There is some evidence that having a former military leader as the chief executive has a negative effect, while having other democracies as neighbors has a reinforcing effect.