Does Diversity Hurt Democracy?

Issue Date January 2004
Volume 15
Issue 1
Page Numbers 154-166
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Freedom House president Adrian Karatynycky has claimed in the Journal of Democracy that “democracy has been significantly more successful in monoethnic societies than in ethnically divided and multiethnic societies.” Is this often-heard claim true? Does heterogeneity promote conflict and harm democratization? Our cross-national analysis finds scant evidence for this notion. Since the obverse of this argument-i.e., that social diversity portends disastrous confict and therefore calls for authoritarian politics-is a favorite rationale put forward by undemocratic leaders in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, we suggest that students and friends of democracy should treat the alleged link between diversity and division with skepticism.

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