Friday, February 11, 2011

Can we Hope for Stable Democracy in Egypt?

As a back of the envelope guide, here's a quick check. According to Przeworski, et al (1996):
If a country, any randomly selected country, is to have a democratic regime next year, what conditions should be present in that country and around the world this year? The answer is: democracy, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favorable international climate, and parliamentary institutions.
More specifically:
Poor democracies, those under $1,000, have a 0.22 probability of dying in a year after their income falls (giving them a life expectancy of less than five years) and a 0.08 probability (or an expected life of 12.5 years) if their income rises. Between $1,000 and $6,000--the middle range--democracies are less sensitive to growth but more likely to die if they stagnate: they die at the rate of 0.059 when they decline, so that their expected life is about 17 years, and at the rate of 0.027, with an expected life of about 37 years, when they grow.
Egypt's per capita GDP is estimated at just over $6,000 for 2010.* Therefore, if the transition goes okay over the next few months and genuine, contestable elections are held in the fall, the prospects for continued democratic rule don't look too bad. This is especially true if the new government is able to tap into the large pool of skilled labor and create the opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation that their people deserve.

* I have not adjusted the data for inflation. Przeworski et al use annual per-capita income, expressed in purchasing power parity (PPP) U.S. dollars in 1985 international prices, as given by version 5.5 of the Penn World Tables. I simply looked up per capita GDP in current international prices, so the data may overstate Egypt's prospects a bit. The IMF maintains the most recent data, available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment