The complexity, richness, and messiness of democratic politics generates opportunities for governments to expand citizens’ basic capabilities, agency, and rights. In turn, these advances contribute to individual and collective well-being This book demonstrates how multiple pathways within democratic regimes connect participatory institutions, rights-based social policies, and inclusive state capacity to human development. Of course there is no simple formula that permits citizens and governments to advance human development. We find that the slow, often cumbersome work of building democracy through participation, citizenship, and inclusive state capacity are crucial to initiate and sustain efforts to improve well-being. Each of these pathways can have a positive independent influence, but we find the strongest outcomes when two or all three pathways are activated simultaneously.
At the broadest level, our theoretical framework and mixed-methods approach demonstrate how a more comprehensive, fuller examination of democratic practice permits us to explain how governments, civil servants, and citizens work together to produce social and political change.