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Democracy in Small StatesPersisting Against All Odds$
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Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198796718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796718.001.0001

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Democratization and Economic Development

Democratization and Economic Development

(p.23) 2 Democratization and Economic Development
Democracy in Small States

Jack Corbett

Wouter Veenendaal

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 interrogates modernization theory and the belief that economic growth is key to explaining why democratic regimes rise and fall. Many small states in Africa, the Caribbean, and most significantly the Pacific are poor but retain high Freedom House scores. Conversely, some small states, in Europe in particular, but also Brunei in Asia, tend to be both richer and poorly scored. This demonstrates that while economic performance is clearly relevant to the survival of regimes, the key link is not how wealthy a country is but how elites both utilize their economic resources and narrate the story of their performance. In poorer states, elites keep public expectations low while rewarding loyal followers via practices of clientelism and patronage. In wealthy states, elites link high living standards with regime stability and centralized authority. Thus, the personalization of politics can have unexpected benefits for democratization, especially in small, poorer countries.

Keywords:   democratization, modernization, clientelism, patronage, personalization, small states, economic development

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