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  • Author: Kelly McMann
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Theory predicts democracy should reduce corruption. Yet, numerous scholars have found empirically that corruption decreases at high levels of democracy but actually increases at low levels. A key weaknesses of studies that aim to explain this inverted curvilinear relationship, however, is that they do not disaggregate the complex concept of democracy. By contrast, this working paper disaggregates democracy theoretically and empirically. Our theoretical framework shows how components of democracy affect costs and benefits of engaging in corruption and, therefore, the level of corruption overall. Whereas other studies examine only how democratic accountability imposes costs on those engaging in corruption and thus illuminate only the downward curve of the relationship, we also examine the transaction costs and political support benefits of corruption and therefore can explain the initial uptick in corruption at low levels of democracy. Using measures of democratic components from Varieties of Democracy, we examine 173 countries from 1900 to 2012 and find that freedoms of expression and association exhibit the inverted curvilinear relationship with corruption, and that judicial constraints have a negative linear relationship. Moreover, the introduction of elections and the quality of elections act jointly, but each in a linear fashion. The mere introduction of elections increases corruption, thus accounting for the upward sloping segment of the inverted curve. Once the quality of elections be
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, David Altman
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Economic growth has become one of the leitmotivs academicians and pundits ask once and again to assess democratic endurance over time. While large portion of the literature posits that economic growth is positive for democracy (eg. Przeworski et al. 2000), for other scholars it is a profoundly destabilizing force (eg. Olson 1963; Huntington 1968). This paper fills these contrasting views asking whether economic growth can undermine democratic competition. We hypothesize that the relation between economic growth and party competition is mediated by the strength of political institutions and free expression. Economic growth promotes incumbency advantage. Rulers can artificially extend this advantage by narrowing the space for negative coverage and dissident voices as long as they have political room for maneuvering. We leverage exogenously-driven growth in Latin America to test this argument. Over the past two decades, the region experienced accelerated growth as a result of a global commodity boom. Using data for 18 Latin American countries during this period, we show that faster economic growth led to significant increases in incumbency advantage in the legislature only where free speech was under attack. Our findings have important implications for literatures on democratization, natural resources, and economic voting.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kyle L Marquardt, Daniel Pemstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Data sets quantifying phenomena of social-scientific interest often use multiple experts to code latent concepts. While it remains standard practice to report the average score across experts, experts likely vary in both their expertise and their interpretation of question scales. As a result, the mean may be an inaccurate statistic. Item-response theory (IRT) models provide an intuitive method for taking these forms of expert disagreement into account when aggregating ordinal ratings produced by experts, but they have rarely been applied to cross- national expert-coded panel data. In this article, we investigate the utility of IRT models for aggregating expert-coded data by comparing the performance of various IRT models to the standard practice of reporting average expert codes, using both real and simulated data. Specifically, we use expert-coded cross-national panel data from the V–Dem data set to both conduct real-data comparisons and inform ecologically-motivated simulation studies. We find that IRT approaches outperform simple averages when experts vary in reliability and exhibit differential item functioning (DIF). IRT models are also generally robust even in the absence of simulated DIF or varying expert reliability. Our findings suggest that producers of cross-national data sets should adopt IRT techniques to aggregate expert-coded data of latent concepts.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Kelly McMann, Carolien van Ham
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Large-N studies suggest that democracy aid is effective, while multiple small-N investigations call such findings into question. This paper accounts for this contradiction and significantly improves our understanding of democracy aid effectiveness by disaggregating democracy aid into specific types and examining effectiveness in different regime types. We argue that a specific type of aid is more likely to be effective when the aid does not pose a threat to regime survival and when the aid matches the particular democratic deficits in a country. Analysis of OECD aid and Varieties of Democracy data for 119 countries from 2002-2012 supports our argument.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bernhard, Amanda B Edgell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: While it is clear that contemporary authoritarian incumbents use democratic emulation as a strategy in the hopes of stabilizing and extending their tenure in power, this does not mean it is always effective. Indeed, an extant literature presents strong evidence that the opening of the pursuit of power to electoral competition can make authoritarianism vulnerable. Unless it is mediated by other factors, democratic emulation by authoritarian incumbents cannot simultaneously both stabilize their rule and make it more vulnerable to democratic transitions. These two literatures leave us with a set of contradictory generalizations. Some scholars argue that reiterated multiparty competitive elections present a gradual path from authoritarianism to democracy. Can they at the same time be a source of authoritarian stability? In this paper we seek to resolve this paradox by employing a unique combination of event history modeling to assess how experiences with multiparty elections influence patterns of authoritarian survival and transition in 108 countries from 1946-2010. Our results suggest that while authoritarian regimes face increasing odds of failure during the first three iterated multiparty and competitive election cycles, subsequent iterated cycles are far less dangerous to their survival. Given that few authoritarian regimes survive past three elections, these findings should be seen as more supportive of the democratization by elections thesis than democratic emulation as a way to enhance authoritarian survival.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicholas Kerr, Anna Lührmann
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: As multiparty elections have become a global norm, scholars and policy experts regard public trust in elections as vital for regime legitimacy. However, very few cross-national studies have examined the consequences of electoral manipulation, including the manipulation of election administration and the media, on citizens’ trust in elections. This paper addresses this gap by exploring how autonomy of election management bodies (EMBs) and media freedom individually and conjointly shape citizens’ trust in elections. Citizens are more likely to express confidence in elections when EMBs display de-facto autonomy, and less likely to do so when media entities disseminate information independent of government control. Additionally, we suggest that EMB autonomy may not have a positive effect on public trust in elections if media freedom is low. Empirical findings based on recent survey data on public trust in 47 elections and expert data on de-facto EMB autonomy and media freedom support our hypotheses.
  • Topic: Public Opinion, Media, Post Truth Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tove Ahlbom, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Natural disasters cause suffering for millions of people around the globe every year and as climate change unfolds the likelihood of natural catastrophes is increasing. While weather shocks, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are beyond our control, a governments’ capacity to protect populations largely determines the degree of human suffering in disasters. Democracies, with freedom of speech, broad public participation and representation, are believed to protect their populations better than non-democratic regimes. However, democratic institutions are insufficient for securing protection from disasters in contexts of corruption, poor planning and public administration incompetence. We argue that the effect of democracy on the extent of human suffering in disasters is contingent on the ability of governments to implement their tasks or the quality of implementing institutions. We test this interaction hypothesis using time series cross-sectional data from the Varieties of Democracy project, the Quality of Government dataset and data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The results show that more democracy is associated with fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Suthan Krishnarajan, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk, Svend-Erik Skaaning
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: An influential body of scholarship has associated both democracy and democratization with civil war. Important findings include the so-called inverted U-shaped relationship between democracy-levels and civil war onset and that propensity for democratic openings to spark internal violence. However, most of these findings have been challenged, particularly by scholars pointing to problems with the aggregate nature of the analyses and the data sources used. Against this background, we enlist new, fine-grained data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. We discuss how the new data can be used to disaggregate regime variables in order to better understand the causal dynamics that link the regime form and regime change to civil war onset, if any. Guided by these considerations, we use the new data to reassess the ‘inverted U-curve’. Our analysis shows that this relationship is driven by ‘liberal’ aspects of democracy such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech rather than by the ‘electoral core’ of democracy. The relationship between clean elections and civil war onset is approximately linearly decreasing, and at the indicator level of the clean elections attribute we find several different patterns.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrik Lindenfors, Joshua Krusell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This paper presents a new method inspired by evolutionary biology for analyzing longer sequences of requisites for the emergence of particular outcome variables across numerous combinations of ordinal variables in social science analysis. The approach involves repeated pairwise investigations of states in a set of variables and identifying what states in the variables that occur before states in all other variables. We illustrate the proposed method by analyzing a set of variables from version 6 of the V-Dem dataset (Coppedge et al. 2015a, b). With a large set of indicators measured over many years, the method makes it possible to explore long, complex sequences across many variables in quantitative datasets. This affords an opportunity, for example, to disentangle the sequential requisites of failing and successful sequences in democratization. For policy purposes this is instrumental: Which components of democracy are most exogenous and least endogenous and therefore the ideal targets for democracy promotion at different stages?
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Sigman, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: One of the most common adjectives used to describe democracy in sub-Saharan Africa is "neopatrimonial". Characterized by strong executives, pervasive clientelism and use of state resources for political legitimation (Bratton and van de Walle 1997), neopatrimonial democracy has been (controversially) associated with a range of (mostly undesirable) social, political and economic outcomes. This paper offers an empirical assessment of neopatrimonialism in Africa's political regimes. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, African regimes vary both quantitatively and qualitatively in their embodiment of neopatrimonial rule. Moreover, we find no clear evidence indicating that neopatrimonialism necessarily impedes the advancement or survival of democracy
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus