This essay synthesizes the results of the large number of studies of late–20th-century democratization published during the last 20 years. Strong evidence supports the claims that democracy is more likely in more developed countries and that regime transitions of all kinds are more likely during economic downturns. Very few of the other arguments advanced in the transitions literature, however, appear to be generally true. This study proposes a theoretical model, rooted in characteristics of different types of authoritarian regimes, to explain many of the differences in democratization experience across cases in different regions. Evidence drawn from a data set that includes 163 authoritarian regimes offers preliminary support for the model proposed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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