Just found at ABCDemocracy Blog a post about an interesting paper at the Journal of Conflict Resolution, by Martin Gassebner, Michael J. Lamla, and James Raymond Vreeland.
Here’s the abstract of the paper “Extreme Bounds of Democracy”:
What determines the emergence and survival of democracy? The authors apply extreme bounds analysis to test the robustness of fifty-nine factors proposed in the literature, evaluating over three million regressions with data from 165 countries from 1976 to 2002. The most robust determinants of the transition to democracy are gross domestic product (GDP) growth (a negative effect), past transitions (a positive effect), and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development membership (a positive effect). There is some evidence that fuel exporters and Muslim countries are less likely to see democracy emerge, although the latter finding is driven entirely by oil-producing Muslim countries. Regarding the survival of democracy, the most robust determinants are GDP per capita (a positive effect) and past transitions (a negative effect). There is some evidence that having a former military leader as the chief executive has a negative effect, while having other democracies as neighbors has a reinforcing effect.
You can read the full paper here [PDF]. And if you are interested in issues of political theory and democracy, make sure you start reading ABCDemocracy.