Does Democracry Lead to a Better Environment? Deforestation and the Democratic Transition Peak

M. Buitenzorgy, A.P.J. Mol

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between democracy and environment is subject to controversy. Some scientists find that democracy has a positive impact in reducing environmental disruption. Other scholars claim that democracy tends to accelerate environmental degradation. By using deforestation rates as a proxy for environmental disruption, we suggest that both sides might be right. Our quantitative analysis has three important outcomes. First, there is evidence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between deforestation and democracy. Second, countries in democratic transition experience the highest deforestation rates, compared to non-democracies and mature democracies. Third, in explaining deforestation rates democracy has larger explanatory power than income. This last result implies that in reducing deforestation rates the emphasis should not only be on economic development but even more on democratization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • cross-country analysis
  • ecological modernization
  • political instability
  • kuznets curve
  • growth
  • inequality
  • corruption
  • quality
  • income

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