IS POLITICAL CORRUPTION A MISSING PIECE IN THE PUZZLE OF AUTOCRATIZATION? A quantitative study of the relationship between changes in levels of political corruption and changes in levels of democracy
While previous research has examined how levels of democracy affect corruption, the number of studies investigating how levels of corruption affect democracy is limited. Declining levels of democracy, or autocratization, is an unsolved puzzle with many theorized causes, such as inequality, low accountability, and economic issues. Political corruption is another discussed factor that is argued to undermine democracy, yet there is a lack of statistical analyzes examining these theoretical claims. This gap limits the empirical foundation of the relationship between corruption and democracy. A time series-cross section analysis will thus be conducted, covering 115 democratic states from 1900-2021. The thesis hypothesizes that increased levels of political corruption decrease levels of democracy in democratic states, which shows to be statistically significant. The results, however, become insignificant when exposed to a robustness test with the inclusion of the control variable Years since Democratization. Nevertheless, as the results present that increasing political corruption decreases levels of democracy to some extent, it provides a statistical groundwork that creates paths for future research, which is required in order to further examine the relationship and to broaden our understanding of why states autocratize.