IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Democracy and the Environment: An Empirical Assessment


  • Manus I. Midlarsky

    (Department of Political Science, Rutgers University)


This article examines empirically the relationship between democracy and the environment. Theorists and policy-makers have been eager to put forward the virtues of democracy as a benign political influence on the environment, especially in contrast to the obvious environmental degradation under Communism that became obvious after its fall. Six measures of environmental protection or degradation are examined as the dependent variables, with the independent variables emerging from earlier tests of the impact of the environment on democracy. In the multiple regression analyses of three of the environmental indicators, deforestation, carbon dioxide emission, and soil erosion by water, the statistically significant effect of democracy on the environment actually was negative, contrary to prediction. In the fourth case, protected land area, the impact of democracy was positive while in the remaining two instances, freshwater availability and soil erosion by chemicals, there was no significant effect of democracy on the environment. Other variables such as economic development, agricultural density, European location, age of the polity, and precipitation behaved empirically as one would intuitively expect. These findings suggest that democracy cannot be viewed unidimensionally in its relationship to the environment, and that assumptions by theorists and policy-makers concerning the positive effect of democracy on the environment need to be re-examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Manus I. Midlarsky, 1998. "Democracy and the Environment: An Empirical Assessment," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 35(3), pages 341-361, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:35:y:1998:i:3:p:341-361

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:35:y:1998:i:3:p:341-361. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.