DP6691 Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity

Author(s): Markus Br├╝ckner, Antonio Ciccone
Publication Date: February 2008
Keyword(s): democratization, transitory economic shocks
JEL(s): O0, P0
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6691

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.