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Jumps into democracy: The transition in the Polity Index


  • Martin Paldam

    () (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Denmark)

  • Erich Gundlach

    (Universit├Ąt Hamburg, Germany)


The Democratic Transition is the process of regime change from authoritarian at the traditional level of development to democratic at the modern level. This process is analyzed on 7,565 pairs of income and political regime data. Regimes are normally in local status quo equilibrium, so they have stepwise stability. The 158 countries are divided in two groups: A small OPEC group, where the transition is skew, and a Main group, where the data show the well-defined long-run path of the Democratic Transition. The distance to the transition path is termed the tension of the regime. The short-run changes are due to triggering events that cause regime jumps. Triggering events are almost random, while most jumps are in the direction of the tension. This mechanism integrates the short and the long run to give the transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Paldam & Erich Gundlach, 2016. "Jumps into democracy: The transition in the Polity Index," Economics Working Papers 2016-05, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2016-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-842, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erich Gundlach & Martin Paldam, 2016. "Socioeconomic transitions as common dynamic processes," Economics Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.

    More about this item


    Transition path; triggering events; regime jumps;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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