What role can political institutions play in promoting development? Does democracy promote economic development (growth), or vice versa? Do democracies tend to do better than autocracies on other social indicators such as life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality rates, access to basic education and literacy rates?
Most of the rich countries in the world are democracies and most of the poorest countries are not, or have not been for most of their histories.1 Recently, however, this reality seems to be changing. The last quarter century has seen a wave of democratization.2 In 2013, 118 countries were classified as electoral democracies, compared to only 39 in 1974.3 Many of these countries have also adopted new constitutions, entrenched bills of rights and made provisions for constitutional judicial review (the so-called “new constitutionalism”).4 Does this wave of democratization provide a basis for optimism that these countries are now on a much stronger development trajectory?
To examine the relationship between democracy and development, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by “democracy”. Democracy is often understood as a political regime that protects the freedom of individuals and expresses the will of the majority through free and fair elections, protection of minority rights and respect for basic human rights.5
However, notwithstanding this general conception of democracy, there is no consensus on precisely how to define or measure democracy.
There are “thin” or “thick” definitions of democracy (as with the rule of law).6> Thin...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.