DP6691 | Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity

Publication Date

07/02/2008

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Abstract

According to the economic approach to political transitions, negative transitory economic shocks can give rise to a window of opportunity for democratic change. We examine this hypothesis using yearly rainfall variation over the 1980-2004 period in 41 Sub-Saharan African countries. We find that a 25% drop in rainfall increases the probability of a transition to democracy during the following two years by around 3 percentage points. A 5% fall in income due to low rainfall raises the probability of democratization by around 7 percentage points. We also find that rainfall does not affect transitions from democracy to autocracy.