Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Grant, Tobin

Abstract

What economic factors prevent democratic breakdowns? Since the beginning of the 20th century, more than a hundred countries in the world have transformed their political regime types into democracies. However, not every transition to democracy continued without interruption. Even though some democracies continued without any breaks, some others relapsed into authoritarian regimes via military coups. The consensus in the literature is that wealthy countries are less likely to experience democratic breakdowns. I argue that wealth alone is not enough to increase the duration of democracies. Using quantitative cross-national survival analysis, I show that temporal and international context change the impact of wealth on democratic survival. In addition, I investigate whether democratic survival is more likely in countries where national income is evenly distributed.

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