The Role of Middle Class in Democratic Diffusion

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with N. Chun, R. Hasan, M.H. Rahman and M.Ulubasoglu, International Review of Economics and Finance, March 2016, v.42, pp. 536-548.

The modernization hypothesis and the democratic domino theory have been at the forefront in explaining the democratization around the globe. This paper empirically investigates the ‘middle class-driven modernization’ hypothesis and the ‘middle class-driven democratic domino’ effect in a panel of 145 countries over the period 1985 to 2013. In particular, we test whether a country’s own middle class or its neighbors’ middle class improves its democratic conditions. Using several middle class measures and a dynamic panel estimator, we show that the ‘middle class-driven modernization’ hypothesis finds strong empirical support in the sample of developing countries excluding Eastern Europe and Central Asia, while the ‘middle class-driven democratic domino’ effect finds support in the sample of developing countries excluding East Asia and the Pacific. Our results document the key role played by the middle class in democratization around the world.

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