Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 141–181 | Cite as

The democratic transition

  • Fabrice Murtin
  • Romain Wacziarg


Over the last two centuries, many countries experienced regime transitions toward democracy. We document this democratic transition over a long time horizon. We use historical time series of income, education and democracy levels from 1870 to 2000 to explore the economic factors associated with rising levels of democracy. We find that primary schooling, and to a weaker extent per capita income levels, are strong determinants of the quality of political institutions. We find little evidence of causality running the other way, from democracy to income or education.


Democracy Modernization Human capital GMM 

JEL Classification

I25 N30 N40 O43 



We thank Maurice Bun, Anke Hoeffler, Peter Lindert, Casey Mulligan, three anonymous referees and the editor for helpful comments. This paper does not express the official views of the OECD.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (pdf 13 KB)
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Supplementary material 4 (do 14 KB) (1 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (do 1 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Statistics Directorate, and Centre for the Economics of Education (London School of Economics and Political Science)ParisFrance
  2. 2.UCLA Anderson School of ManagementLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.NBERCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.CEPRLondonUK

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