Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach

Professor Ben Ansell (together with David Samuels) has recently published 'Inequality and Democratization: An Elite Competition Approach'. The book was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2014.


Research on the economic origins of democracy and dictatorship has shifted away from the impact of growth and turned toward the question of how different patterns of growth - equal or unequal - shape regime change. Ansell and Samuels offer a new theory of the historical relationship between economic modernization and the emergence of democracy on a global scale, focusing on the effects of land and income inequality. Contrary to most mainstream arguments, Ansell and Samuels suggest that democracy is more likely to emerge when rising, yet politically disenfranchised, groups demand more influence because they have more to lose, rather than when threats of redistribution to elite interests are low. We show that democratization is historically more likely under conditions of high income inequality, that the conjunction of inequality and democratization produces less redistribution rather than more, and that the chief proponents of democracy in authoritarian regimes are individuals with high income and anti-redistributive preferences.

This book is available to buy here:

Professor Ben Ansell is Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions, Nuffield College