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Long Live Democracy: The Determinants of Political Instability in Latin America


  • Luisa Blanco
  • Robin Grier


We investigate the underlying causes of political instability in a panel of 18 Latin American countries from 1971-2000. We test whether regime type, regime durability, factionalism, income inequality, ethnic diversity, ethnic discrimination, regional spillover effects, urban growth and macroeconomic variables matter for instability. We find several important results: (1) democracy has a significant negative effect on instability that is robust to several alternative specifications; (2) factionalised political systems experience higher instability; (3) income inequality, ethnic fractionalisation, and urban growth have important nonlinear effects on instability; and (4) of the macroeconomic variables we study, only openness to trade has a significant negative effect on instability.

Suggested Citation

  • Luisa Blanco & Robin Grier, 2009. "Long Live Democracy: The Determinants of Political Instability in Latin America," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 76-95.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:45:y:2009:i:1:p:76-95
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380802264788

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Simplice Asongu & Paul Acha-Anyi, 2017. "The Murder Epidemic: A Global Comparative Study," Working Papers 17/059, African Governance and Development Institute..
    2. Jean P. Sepúlveda & Claudio A. Bonilla, 2014. "The factors affecting the risk attitude in entrepreneurship: evidence from Latin America," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(8), pages 573-581, May.
    3. Akhtaruzzaman, M. & Berg, Nathan & Hajzler, Christopher, 2017. "Expropriation risk and FDI in developing countries: Does return of capital dominate return on capital?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 84-107.
    4. Jammazi, Rania, 2012. "Oil shock transmission to stock market returns: Wavelet-multivariate Markov switching GARCH approach," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 430-454.
    5. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10797-016-9428-x is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mukherjee, Deepraj, 2015. "Did pre-WTO agreements curb corruption?," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-10.
    7. Nabamita Dutta & Deepraj Mukherjee, 2016. "Do Literacy And A Mature Democratic Regime Cure Corruption?," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 1-26, June.
    8. Askarov, Zohid & Doucouliagos, Hristos, 2015. "Aid and institutions in transition economies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 55-70.
    9. Gurgul, Henryk & Lach, Łukasz, 2012. "Political instability and economic growth: Evidence from two decades of transition in CEE," MPRA Paper 37792, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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