Lindenfors, Patrik , Lindberg, Staffan, Mechkova, Valeriya & Berker Kavasoglu | 2020
USAID Center for Democracy and Governance & NORC at the University of Chicago, September 2020.
Scholars have long studied the correlation between democracy and development; yet, there is no consensus in the literature about what is the cause and what is the effect in this relationship. Engaging with this vast literature, we utilize novel sequencing methods and time series cross section analysis to examine the development trajectories of countries and the long-term dimensions of institution building. Drawing on previous research, we expect theoretically, and also find empirical support that historically several democracy indicators develop early on in the sequence, while most development indicators develop much later. Among the earliest movers are: introducing universal suffrage and establishing elections for the main office-holders; together with rule of law and civil liberties and freedom of association. The indicators which develop later in the sequence tend to be development outcomes, including higher ratings on the environmental performance index, greater trade and tax revenue as percentage of GDP, higher percentages of the population using the internet, as well as several key indicators of gender equality. The findings presented in this paper have substantive policy implications both for those who are interested in promoting democratic governance and for those who wish to improve development outcomes.