Stories written by Wahiduddin Mahmud

How Democracies Die and Economies Grow

There are two prominent themes of contemporary development discourses, both lacking a consensus, as reflected in academic research and in their popular versions in bestseller books. One of these is about finding the reasons for the decline of democracies since the late 1980s and the early 1990s when the erstwhile military rule and dictatorships gave way to democratically elected regimes in many developing countries. A representative book on this is Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War by Steven Levitsky and Lucan A Way. Levitsky has also recently co-authored another bestseller, How Democracies Die, with his Harvard University colleague Daniel Ziblatt. The second theme is about how the quality of governance could explain why some countries economically prosper and others do not. On this, one of the best-known books is Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, co-authored by two well-known political economy experts, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. The two themes, though interrelated, are quite distinct, and much confusion is created by not recognising these as such.