Democracy and Sustainability: How does the Democratic Process Affect Sustainability?

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
"The idea of democracy defined the 20th century as democratic movements spread across the globe. Similarly, one of the defining ideas of the 21st century is the idea of sustainability as the effects of societal development continue to impose ecological changes at the unprecedented rate. In this paper we explore the relationship between democracy and sustainability at the national level. We ask: how does democracy affect sustainability? To answer this question, we develop indices for both democracy and sustainability using national data of 192 countries deposited at the Europa World Yearbook and the World Bank between 1972 and 2005. Then we perform a series of regression analysis to investigate the relationship between democracy and sustainability. The results of the study were illuminating, as it revealed that sustainability was largely falling during the period of study on a per capita basis, yet it was rising on per unit of GDP basis. Of particular noteworthy results were the relatively strong performances of democracies, which tended to perform the best across all groups in terms of per unit GDP figures and also tended to have the highest average sustainability (except for medium income countries) in per capita terms. Our analysis was also revealed that autocracies tended to perform the worst in these measurements, both in per capita and per unit GDP terms. The results of this study show that government type has a discernible impact on the sustainability of a country. On average, democracies tend to outperform autocracies and semi-democracies across the study period."
democracy, development, sustainability