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Monday, August 29, 2005

Democracy as a function of GDP?

Semi-Random Ramblings has a very interesting Blog post up:

Two political scientists, Adam Preworski and Fernando Limongi, looked at statistics for every country in the world for the last 60 years. In virtually every country in which democratization has succeeded — and we’re talking about countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan — it has happened during a period where GDP per capita was between about $1,500 and $6,000. Those under $1,500 have lasted less than 8 years on average. In between $1,500 and $3,000, democracies last an average of 18 years. If their economies grow to $6,000 per capita GDP, they usually join the ranks of rich, free, democratic nations: historically, the chances of such a democracy failing is only 1 in 500. No free democracy has ever failed to stay free and democratic once it reached $9,000 GDP per capita; thirty-two democratic regimes have lasted around 800 combined years above that level. These numbers cut across many cultures and nations, and apply regardless of previous democratic experience. GDP per capita in Iraq was $2,100 in 2004. This year, it may break $3,000 as economic growth was 50% in 2004 and may be close to that in 2005. A lot has been quietly done behind the scenes to help that growth continue, such as the creation of an independent central bank, tax cuts, lifting of restrictive tariffs, a relatively stable currency, setting up systems to protect property rights, etc. History suggests these will ultimately be decisive in the question of whether Iraqi democracy succeeds.
I wasn't aware of that particular correlation between Democracy stability and GDP, although in a general sense, it is obvious that extreme poverty can certainly sideline a democracy. I am also though pretty open to the arguement that democratic institutions and freedom themselves drive economic growth to a large degree, so there may be some question of which comes first here. Regardless, economic growth in Iraq is a very good sign. (via Dean's World)


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