Lindenfors, Patrik & Matthew Wilson & Staffan I. Lindberg | 2020
Are some countries better equipped from the onset of a democratization process to become democracies? We compared successful and failed episodes of liberalization over the period 1900 to 2018 to examine if starting state inﬂuences the probability of successful democratization. We show that liberalization in autocracies was more likely to succeed in countries that had the advantage of a better starting point concerning political institutions, GDP, and education. These more privileged countries could also carry out key reforms more rapidly, and were able to do so even in areas in which they had no initial advantage. This reveals a “Matthew effect” in political science: to countries that already have, more is given. This is a novel observation in political science that has important implications for current methodologies and policies.