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The Dynamics of Democracy, Development and Cultural Values

Spaiser, Viktoria; Ranganathan, Shyam; Mann, Richard P.; Sumpter, David J.T. 2014

PLoS ONE 9(6): e97856. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097856

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0097856

A short summary:

Over the past decades many countries have experienced rapid changes in their economies, their democratic institutions and the values of their citizens. Comprehensive data measuring these changes across very different countries has recently become openly available. Between country similarities suggest common underlying dynamics in how countries develop in terms of economy, democracy and cultural values. We apply a novel Bayesian dynamical systems approach to identify the model which best captures the complex, mainly non-linear dynamics that underlie these changes. We show that the level of Human Development Index (HDI) in a country drives first democracy and then higher emancipation of citizens. This change occurs once the countries pass a certain threshold in HDI. The data also suggests that there is a limit to the growth of wealth, set by higher emancipation. Having reached a high level of democracy and emancipation, societies tend towards equilibrium that does not support further economic growth. Our findings give strong empirical evidence against a popular political science theory, known as the Human Development Sequence. Contrary to this theory, we find that implementation of human-rights and democratisation precede increases in emancipative values.

PLoS ONE 9(6): e97856. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097856

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0097856

A short summary:

Over the past decades many countries have experienced rapid changes in their economies, their democratic institutions and the values of their citizens. Comprehensive data measuring these changes across very different countries has recently become openly available. Between country similarities suggest common underlying dynamics in how countries develop in terms of economy, democracy and cultural values. We apply a novel Bayesian dynamical systems approach to identify the model which best captures the complex, mainly non-linear dynamics that underlie these changes. We show that the level of Human Development Index (HDI) in a country drives first democracy and then higher emancipation of citizens. This change occurs once the countries pass a certain threshold in HDI. The data also suggests that there is a limit to the growth of wealth, set by higher emancipation. Having reached a high level of democracy and emancipation, societies tend towards equilibrium that does not support further economic growth. Our findings give strong empirical evidence against a popular political science theory, known as the Human Development Sequence. Contrary to this theory, we find that implementation of human-rights and democratisation precede increases in emancipative values.