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Working paper

Modernization Theory and Development Without Democracy: Evidence from Elections to the Iranian National Assembly 1906-1975

Comparative Politics, Social Research Methods and Methodology. PS. academia.edu, 2015
What are the conditions under which development does not breed democracy? To provide an answer, I propose a novel and minimal model of authoritarian elections in relation to the economy of power-sharing. Using primary archival material, I construct a novel district-level panel dataset of more than 3000 parliamentary elections to the Iranian National Assembly spanning over 70 years, combine the electoral statistics with detailed district-level socioeconomic data from the country’s first three national censuses, exploit The White Revolution, the Shah’s far-reaching modernizing attempt,as an intervention, and use matching and multilevel mixed effects models with a variety of robustness checks to test Modernization Theory’s main premise. The findings demonstrate a decline of at least 7% in the rates of electoral turnout as a result of the reforms. Labor growth in the agrarian and industrial sectors are shown to exert significant influence on the turnout, in opposite directions.