Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Ernest B. McGowen III
The initial motivation of this research was to develop a better understanding of the primary causes of democratic backsliding, and by extension, how pro-democratic governments, NGOs, and other institutions can most effectively combat democratic backsliding. Previous research has examined the effects of economic conditions (Waldner and Lust 2018) as well as populism (Kyle and Mounk 2018) on a country’s democracy, but to my knowledge, no study has examined whether the effect of economic conditions on a country’s democracy differs between populist and non-populist countries. My research attempts to provide an answer to this question by examining how personal wealth, price instability, and income inequality have influenced democratic backsliding under populist and non-populist leaders globally since 1990. The most noteworthy finding of my research is that, in contradiction to previous decades’ research, increased personal wealth corresponds with democratic backsliding in all countries over the last 30 years, but substantially more so in those with populist leadership. I also find that price instability has virtually no effect on a country’s democratic qualities. Lastly, I find that wealth inequality has a small though statistically insignificant effect on democratic backsliding under populist leaders and roughly no effect under non-populist leaders.
Winter, Jacob, "Economic Predictors of Democratic Backsliding: A Comparison of Populist and Non-Populist Leaders" (2022). Honors Theses. 1644.