Is Economic Development a Prerequisite of a Functioning Democratic System?

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Is Economic Development a Prerequisite of a Functioning Democratic System?

In the world of political science, it is an inherent feature of the discipline that academics will seek a universally applicable theory to explain phenomena that occur within the political sphere. Seymour Martin Lipset did just that in his article Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy, published in the American Political Science Review in 1959. In this, he made the claim that forms of behaviour in social groups have certain specific outcomes, which can be measured and tested by empirical means, and then generalised from to create a hypothesis. From this he derives that in a democratic state “one must be able to point
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It may then be fair to infer from this that the theory of the linear progression is incorrect in one way – that the economic successes of a nation do not necessarily result in that nation converting into a democracy, but may be correct in another, that while economic success may not result in the birth of a democratic system, no democratic system can be born without

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‘The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2008’, The Economist Online [accessed 8th March 2009] (p. 4) 3 ‘Freedom in the World 2008’, Freedom House [accessed 8th March 2009] (pp. 3-4) 4 ‘Gross National Income per Capita 2007, Atlas Method and PPP’, World Bank World Development Indicators Database [accessed 8th March 2009] (p. 1) 5 Michael E. Alvarez, José Antonio Cheibub, Fernando Limongi and Adam Przeworski, Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Material Well-being in the World, 1950-1990 (Cambridge, 2000), p. 88 6 ‘Gross National Income per Capita 2007, Atlas Method and PPP’, World Bank World Development Indicators Database (p. 1) 7 The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2008’, The Economist Online (pp. 7-8)

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pre-existing levels of economic development. There are a few reasons for making this deduction from the available

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