Monday, January 02, 2006

Peace: Among the Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman, in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, cites page after page of empirical evidence for the correlation between economic growth and political stability:

"Political scientist Adam Przeworski examined the experience of 139 countries over four decades . . . the probability that any individual democracy would be overthrown by a dictatorial regime was nearly four times as great if the country's per capita income was falling than if its income was rising. . . . One classic study found that each doubling of per capita income reduces the probability of a country's experiencing a successful coup by between 40 and 70 percent . . . the authors suggest that countries may fall into a 'coup trap,' in which poverty fosters political coups, which in turn foster more poverty, and hence more coups."

And, of course, democracies tend to be peaceful whereas military dictatorships are much more likely to initiate wars. While the “Democratic Peace” may not be perfect, when we have a world in which all nations are democracies we may well have created a world in which wars no longer take place. At a minimum, such a world would most likely have fewer, smaller, shorter, and less damaging wars.

On the "Democratic Peace," see Rudy Rummel,