Economic Development and its Role In Democratic Stability

Through these readings by Seymour Martin Lipset and Adam Przeworski et. al, it is clear that economic development does in fact help ensure stability for democracy, however it does not solely ensure it. While economic development does help eliminate, or at least reduce economic inequality within countries, the stability of democracy also relies on the system in which democracy is built on. This can be seen within Przeworski et. al’s Journal, “What Makes Democracies Endure?” when it explains that for a countries democratic regime to survive, it needs economic development to improve its annual income per capita. Specifically, it mentions that democracies that have $1,000 or less annual income are extremely fragile and have difficulty surviving. This helps demonstrate the link between economic development and democratic stability because, as Przeworski et. al also mentions, very few dictatorships develop at all, let alone improve their annual per capita income more than that of a poor democracy as previously mentioned.

While economic development can help raise the annual income per capita, which can help establish a democratic regime, its also plays an important role in choosing which type of democratic system. Przeworski et. al states in this journal, that overall, presidential systems of democracy tend to be less durable than parliamentary systems in the long run of stability. This is suggested due to the fact that presidential systems have the issue of running into what Przeworski et. al refer to as legal paralysis, in which economic development maybe improving, but goals such as improving policies and laws are at a standstill due to the fact that the president is unable to agree with Congress, or vice versa. However, this is not always the case as parliamentary systems can also suffer from legal paralysis. This can be seen in current events as Greece, a country with a parliamentary system, has been suffering from legal paralysis and economic disaster, as it battles to repay their debts to the European Union. Currently, Greece is electing their new democratic leader during their economic issues, which seems to go against the idea that economic development is the sole cause of ensuring stability for democracy. Finally, it is because of the fact that Greece is still using a democratic regime, instead of trying to change regimes, helps show Lipset’s idea of legitimacy also being a key part of ensuring stability for democracy as if they did not believe their parliamentary system was legitimate, they would not proceed to elect a new democratic leader, but instead may have called for a regime change.


Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy. By Seymour Martin Lipset.

What Makes Democracies Endure? By Adam Przeworski, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antoni Cheibub & Fernando Limongi.

Greek Elections: Opposition Concedes Defeat. By Jethro Mullen and Ivana Kottasova.


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