Institutional determinants of democratic survival

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How institutions influence the survival of democracies? In this paper, I consider a model of democracy that incorporates institutional features in the classical income redistribution models. The article starts with a moderator analysis that shows a strong influence of institutions on the income-democracy relationship. In the theoretical model I consider three components that moderate the distribution tensions: first, redistributive inefficiencies, such as leakage in taxation, income misreporting, corruption, or dead-weight losses. Second, the possibility of electoral manipulation, such as frauds, political violence, party bans, and legal restrictions to political participation. Lastly, binding judicial limitations on the redistributive capability, such as the existence of an independent judiciary that oversees the government decisions. I show that inefficiencies and electoral manipulation increase the chances of a democratic breakdown while some levels of institutional checks and balances may be beneficial for democratic survival. This paper has implications for understanding the recent democratic backsliding in developing democracies around the world.

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