Democratic Waves? War, New States, and Global Patterns of Democratization, 1800 –2000

Conference paper

Gates, Scott; Håvard Hegre; Mark P. Jones & Håvard Strand (2007) Democratic Waves? War, New States, and Global Patterns of Democratization, 1800 –2000, presented at Statsvitenskaplig Fagkonferanse, 3-5 March.

Abstract: Samuel Huntington’s (1991) thesis of democratic waves has come under strong criticism from scholars such as Renske Doorenspleet (2000) and Adam Przeworski and his colleagues (2000). We take issue with all of these authors’ (including Huntington’s) use of a blunt dichotomous measure of democracy, which we believe creates the potential for inaccurate analysis of democracy and democratic/autocratic tran-sitions. Using a set of more refined measures of democracy we find substantial support for Huntington’s wave thesis, and little support for the position of his critics who argue that there are no democratic waves. We find clear identifiable trends in the evolution of democratic governance throughout the world during the past century that correspond roughly to the waves and reverse-waves identified by Huntington, but we do not find any support for the explanation hypothesized by Huntington. Using multinomial logit analyses of political transitions, we find this wave-like pattern of global democratization is associated with shocks to the international system (such as world wars), domestic economic growth rates, political neighborhood effects, and the global proportion of democracies. Democratic waves are not due to the inherent aspects of democra-tization as theorized by Huntington.

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