Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Robert Kaufman -- Inequality and Regime Change: Democratic Transitions and the Stability of Democratic Rule

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

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"Inequality and Regime Change: Democratic Transitions and the Stability of Democratic Rule," with Robert Kaufman, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University.

Recent work by Carles Boix and Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson has focused on the role of inequality and distributive conflict in transitions to and from democratic rule. We assess these claims with an original qualitative data set on democratic transitions and reversions during the “third wave” period from 1980 to 2000. We show that the incidence of “distributive conflict,” the key causal mechanisms in these theories, is in fact quite low. It is present in just over half of all transition cases and less than a third of all reversions. Our analysis is motivated by methodological as well as theoretical concerns. We argue for the benefit of a multimethod approach that validates formal models and quantitative findings through causal process observations of cases designed to assess not only average treatment effects but the presence of stipulated causal mechanisms.

Location: McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.

Please email Ellen_White@brown.edu for a copy of Professor Kaufman's paper.

Cosponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.