Global Democracy for Europeans: A Demographic Story
Insofar as democracy is a product of long-term diffusion, scholars generally focus on colonialism (especially English) or religion (especially Protestant). Here, we focus on a third pathway from Europe – Europeans. We show that there is a persistent relationship between the share of Europeans in a society and its regime type. We conjecture that this is because Europeans viewed democracy as a basic right – for themselves. It was a club that produced club goods (excludable goods such as property rights and civil liberties). Hence, where Europeans were in the majority they were democrats. Where they were the minority they were indifferent or hostile, or they embraced a restricted form of democracy that excluded non-Europeans. And where Europeans were entirely absent there was no one – at least initially – to carry the democratic torch. To test this argument we assemble an original dataset measuring the diffusion of Europeans across the world from 1600 to the present. This is employed to predict democracy in a series of analyses that focus on various indicators of democracy and a variety of samples, specifications, time-periods, and estimators, including fixed effects and instrumental variables. The evidence offers strong support for the thesis.