Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-684bc48f8b-68png Total loading time: 0.241 Render date: 2021-04-11T14:03:53.322Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Correlates of Levels of Democracy in Latin America during the 1990s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018


Does the conventional wisdom about the relationships between economic, cultural, and political party variables and democracy stand up in the Latin American experience of the 1990s? This study, utilizing new data sets for the region, finds that some traditional hypotheses are upheld better than others. It sustains the conventional wisdom that economic development, economic growth, democratic values, and (with a two-year lead) education correlate positively with the level of democracy. Surprisingly, however, neither social trust nor the number of political parties is significantly correlated with the level of democracy. The study suggests various possible explanations for the weak or nonexistent relationships for social trust and number of parties, in the hope that these surprising results will stimulate further research.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Miami 2006

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Almond, Gabriel A., and Sidney, Verba. 1965. The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
Altman, David, and Aníbal, Pérez-Liñán 2001. Assessing the Quality of Democracy: Freedom, Competitiveness, and Participation in 18 Latin American Countries. Accessed August 18, 2001Google Scholar
Bielasiak, Jack. 2002. The Institutionalization of Electoral and Party Systems in Postcommunist States. Comparative Politics 34, 2 (January): 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birdsall, Nancy, and Augusto, Torre (with Rachel Menezes). 2001. Washington Contentious: Economic Policies for Social Equity in Latin America. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
Bollen, Kenneth A., and Pamela, Paxton. 2000. Subjective Measures of Liberal Democracy. Comparative Political Studies 33 (February): 186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brownlee, Jason M. 2002. Low Tide after the Third Wave: Exploring Politics under Authoritarianism. Comparative Politics 34, 4 (July): 1498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burkhart, Ross E., and Michael, S. Lewis-Beck 1994. Comparative Democracy: the Economic Development. American Political Science Review 88, 4 (December): 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Camp, Roderic ed. 2001. Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coppedge, Michael. 1994. Strong Parties and Lame Ducks: Presidential Partyarchy and Factionalism in Venezuela. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Coppedge, Michael. 2001. Political Darwinism in Latin America's Lost Decade. In Political Parties and Democracy, ed. Larry, Diamond. and Richard, Gunther.. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1205.Google Scholar
Diamond, Larry. 1996. Democracy in Latin America: Degrees, Illusions, and Directions for Consolidation. In Beyond Sovereignty: Collectively Defending Democracy, ed. Tom, Farer.. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1104.Google Scholar
Diamond, Larry. 2002. Thinking about Hybrid Regimes. Journal of Democracy 13, 2 (April): 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diamond, Larry, and Juan, J. Linz. 1999. Introduction: Politics, Society, and Democracy in Latin America. In Democracy in Developing Countries: Latin America. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. 170.Google Scholar
Dix, Robert H. 1992. Democratization and the Institutionalization of Latin American Political Parties. Comparative Political Studies 24, 4 (January): 14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).. 2000. Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2000. Santiago, Chile: ECLAC.Google Scholar
The Economist 2001. An Alarm Call for Democrats. July 28: 138.Google Scholar
The Economist 2002. Democracy Clings on in a Cold Economic Climate. August 17: 130.Google Scholar
The Economist 2003. The Stubborn Survival of Frustrated Democrats. November 1: 134.Google Scholar
The Economist 2004. Democracy's Low-Level Equilibrium. August 14: 136.Google Scholar
Foweraker, Joe, and Roman, Krznaric. 2002. The Uneven Performance of Third Wave Democracies: Electoral Politics and the Imperfect Rule of Law in Latin America. Latin American Politics and Society 44, 3 (Fall): 160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Freedom House (n.d.). Freedom in the World: Country Ratings. Accessed on various datesGoogle Scholar
Huntington, Samuel P. 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
Inglehart, Ronald. 2003. How Solid Is Mass Support for Democracy—and How Can We Measure It PS: Political Science and Politics 36, 1 (January): 157.Google Scholar
Jaggers, Keith, and Ted, Robert Gurr 1995. Tracking Democracy's Third Wave with the Polity Iii Data. Journal of Peace Research 32, 4: 182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Karatnycky, Adrian. 1997. Survey Methodology. Freedom Review 28 (January-February): 195.Google Scholar
Kelly, Phil. 2002. Democracy in Latin America: Update of the Fitzgibbon Survey. LASA Forum 33, 1 (Spring): 11.Google Scholar
Laakso, Murkku, and Rein, Taagepera. 1979. Effective Number of Parties: a Measure with Application to Western Europe. Comparative Political Studies 12: 327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lagos, Marta. 2000. Latinobarómetro Survey Data 1996–2000. Presented at the conference “Challenges to Democracy in the Americas,” the Carter Center, Atlanta, October 117.Google Scholar
Latinobarometer (Santiago). Annual public opinion surveys. Accessed on various datesGoogle Scholar
Lebovic, James H., and Cynthia, McClintock. 2003. Comparing the Freedom House and Polity Indicators: Lessons from Latin America. Unpublished mss.Google Scholar
Linz, Juan J., and Alfred, Stepan. 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy. American Political Science Review 51, 1: 1105.Google Scholar
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1981. Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Lora, Eduardo, and Ugo, Panizza. 2003. The Future of Structural Reform. Journal of Democracy 14, 2 (April): 137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mainwaring, Scott P. 1998. Party Systems in the Third Wave. Journal of Democracy 9, 3 (July): 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mainwaring, Scott P. 1999. Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratization: The Case of Brazil. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Mainwaring, Scott, and Aníbal, Pérez-Liñán 2003. Level of Development and Democracy: Latin American Exceptionalism, 1945–1996. Comparative Political Studies 36, 9 (November): 167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mainwaring, Scott, and Timothy, R. Scully. 1995. Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Mainwaring, Scott, and Aníbal, Pérez-Liñán 2001. Classifying Political Regimes in Latin America, 1945–1999. Studies in Comparative International Development 36, 1 (Spring): 165.Google Scholar
Montero, Alfred P. 1998. Review Essay: Assessing the Third Wave Democracies. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 40, 2 (Summer): 134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munck, Gerardo L. 2001. The Regime Question: Theory Building in Democracy Studies. World Politics 54 (October): 144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munck, Gerardo L., and Jay, Verkuilen. 2002. Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices. Comparative Political Studies 35 (February): 134.Google Scholar
O'Donnell, Guillermo. 1973. Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California.Google Scholar
Payne, J. Mark, Daniel, Zovatto G., Fernando Carrillo, Flórez, and Andrés, Allamand Zavala 2002. Democracies in Development: Politics and Reform in Latin America. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank/Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Polity Iv Project, (n.d.) Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800–2003. Monty G. Marshall and Keith Jaggers, principal investigators. Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland. http:www.bsos.umd.educidcminscrpolity Accessed April 2004Google Scholar
PromPerú, 1997. Latinobarometer 97: Public Opinion in Latin America. Brochure. Lima: PromPerú.Google Scholar
Przeworski, Adam, Michael, E. Alvarez, José, Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando, Limongi. 2000. Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950–1990. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Putnam, Robert D. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Pye, Lucian W. 1965. Introduction: Political Culture and Political Development. In Political Culture and Political Development, ed. Pye, and Sidney, Verba.. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seligson, Mitchell A. 2002. Renaissance of Political Culture or the Renaissance of the Ecological Fallacy Comparative Politics 34 (April): 192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weiner, Myron, and Joseph, LaPalombara. 1966. Conclusion: The Impact of Parties on Political Development. In Political Parties and Political Development, ed. LaPalombara, and Weiner, . Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1438.Google Scholar
Weyland, Kurt. 1999. Economic Policy in Chile's New Democracy. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 41, 3 (Fall): 196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wiarda, Howard J. 1973. Toward a Framework for the Study of Political Change in the Iberic-Latin Tradition: the Corporative Model. World Politics 25 (January): 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
World Bank.. 1998. World Development Indicators 1998. Washington, DC.: World Bank.Google ScholarPubMed
World Bank.. 1999. Country data sets. http:www.worldbank.orgdatacountrydate Accessed July 2001.Google Scholar
World Bank.. 2002. Social Capital for Development. Report. http:www.worldbank.orgpoverty.scapitalindex.htm Accessed June 8, 2002.Google Scholar
World Bank.. 2005. World Development Indicators Online. http:devdata.worldbank.orgdataonline Accessed December 2005Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 10 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 02nd January 2018 - 11th April 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Correlates of Levels of Democracy in Latin America during the 1990s
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Correlates of Levels of Democracy in Latin America during the 1990s
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Correlates of Levels of Democracy in Latin America during the 1990s
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *