Research Handbook on Democracy and Development
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Research Handbook on Democracy and Development

Edited by Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai

Exploring and updating the controversial debates about the relationship between democracy and development, this Research Handbook provides clarification on the complex and nuanced interlinkages between political regime type and socio-economic development. Distinguished scholars examine a broad range of issues from multidisciplinary perspectives across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
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Chapter 23: Horizontal inequalities and democracy

Frances Stewart


The chapter analyses the relationship between democracy and inequalities among groups (horizontal inequalities (HIs)). Democracies are more likely to be associated with lower HIs than non-democracies, because high inequalities may lead to resistance by deprived groups and democratic breakdown, and democracies are more likely to adopt policies which reduce HIs. Statistical evidence across countries supports this view. The relationship depends partly on the group composition of the population and the nature of democratic institutions. Reviewing the experience of some African countries suggests that where there are multiple groups with no one dominating, as in mainland Tanzania, democracy is likely to be most stable and HIs to be lowest. In contrast, where there are two or three sizeable groups with large HIs, as in Cote D’Ivoire and Cameroon, political instability may follow with a breakdown in democratic institutions., Power-sharing democracies can reduce HIS and sustain political stability, illustrated by experience of Ghana and Nigeria.

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