Discussion paper

DP6691 Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity

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.


Ciccone, A and M Brückner (2008), ‘DP6691 Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6691. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp6691