Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Afghanistan, Democracy, and GDP

  1. #1
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA
    Posts
    1,117

    Default Afghanistan, Democracy, and GDP

    This is an open question in two parts; 1) Is it possible for Afghanistan to reach the threshold per capita GDP that political scientists feel is required for sustaining a democracy, and 2) If not, what form of government should the international community be promoting in Afghanistan?

    A little background from a recent news release. This article dealt with predictions of the potential for China to transition to democracy, but the GDP numbers are what are important.

    "China's grassroots progress toward democracy is comparable to that which took place in the early 1970s in Taiwan, when per capita income reached about $2,500, similar to China's income today, Rowen writes.

    "The worldwide norm, first clearly established by [Stanford Professor Emeritus] Seymour Martin Lipset, is 'the richer the country, the freer,' '' Rowen writes, although he also notes that Saudi Arabia and Brunei, countries enriched through oil, have not followed that pattern.

    "Growing wealth is accompanied by increased education, the building of business and government institutions with some autonomy, and the formation of attitudes that enable democratic governments to survive when they have a chance at power," he said. If China's economic growth continues at today's rates, it will reach mean incomes of $7,000 to $8,000 by 2015. "Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina, in addition to Taiwan and South Korea, all made the transition to democracy while they were within this income range."

    http://news-service.stanford.edu/pr/96/961115china.html

    According to the CIA World Fact Book, Afghanistan's GDP is about $1,000. Given this information, and granted it is only one of several factors to consider in democratic development, can Afghanistan reach the $2,500 threshold let alone $7-8K? If not, what options are available?
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
    ---

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    1,602

    Default Afghanistan, India, Mozambique...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    This is an open question in two parts; 1) Is it possible for Afghanistan to reach the threshold per capita GDP that political scientists feel is required for sustaining a democracy, and 2) If not, what form of government should the international community be promoting in Afghanistan?
    There is certainly a strong correlation between democracy and GDP/capita—however, it is just that, a correlation. There is no requirement—if there was, India wouldn't have sustained a democratic polity since 1947 (current PPP GDP/capita, approximately $2,700).

    Indeed, quantitative studies that test correlates of democracy typically code India as a single case, on a par with, say, Vanuatu. If you weight it by population (1 billion), then the income/democracy relationship is far less clear.

    More to the point, it is worth considering the case of Mozambique: despite poverty and 17 years of brutal civil war (almost 1 million dead, around 5% of the population), it has sustained imperfect democratic politics since the 1994 elections.

    (Full credit to the UN, and more particularly the then SRSG Aldo Ajello, for managing a very tricky transition.)

  3. #3
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    The other problem is with the definition of GDP. In actuality, it is a combination of GDP modified by the Lorenz curve (intra-social distribution of wealth). The more skewed the Lorenz curve, the less likely that you will have a "democracy" (however you define it).
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  4. #4
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,099

    Question Would this also

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    The other problem is with the definition of GDP. In actuality, it is a combination of GDP modified by the Lorenz curve (intra-social distribution of wealth). The more skewed the Lorenz curve, the less likely that you will have a "democracy" (however you define it).
    vary based on what a given populace in the given area had for expectations of "normal" conditions relative to their location and/or social standing.

    Aren't social expectations almost as important an indicator of acceptance for a given action as what the result of the action ends up being?
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  5. #5
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA
    Posts
    1,117

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    vary based on what a given populace in the given area had for expectations of "normal" conditions relative to their location and/or social standing.

    Aren't social expectations almost as important an indicator of acceptance for a given action as what the result of the action ends up being?
    JMO but in large part yes and in small but important part no.

    Expectations of the citizens play the largest part in determining if a democracy will exist. If the people are only worried about survival on a day to day basis they are not going to be interested in elections. That is a vast oversimplification but it gets to the point that a number of factors have to be in place before the general population starts to believe that democracy is worth the effort.

    Econimics matter becuase the economic conditions of a country play a large part in determining what services the government can provide (at least through a central government scheme). If the government cannot provide basic services because there is no economic system beyond a simple agricultural barter system then I don't see that any modern central government (liberal democracy) can survive. If the central government cannot provide the police, schools, electricity, water that are needed then some other more local entity will fill that void.

    Going back to what the citizens consider "normal", that may be a local warlord who takes a portion of what they make and provide them limited security (at least security from other warloards). That is all they can expect because that is all anyone can realistically provide.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 09-08-2008 at 09:41 PM.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
    ---

  6. #6
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,219

    Default Afghanistan: a place to test a theory?

    Afghanistan has long been a "basket case" economy, with little of value to export (note how little is said about the natural gas production in the north) and I exclude heroin. In the early years of the Cold War there was competition between the USA and USSR in providing aid; for the road network and irrigation in Helmand Province for example. Has the economy really improved since the USSR's invasion? Let alone the latest Western intervention?

    Not a good place to test an economic theory IMO.

    davidbfpo

  7. #7
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,099

    Question Not a good place to test it

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Afghanistan has long been a "basket case" economy, with little of value to export (note how little is said about the natural gas production in the north) and I exclude heroin. In the early years of the Cold War there was competition between the USA and USSR in providing aid; for the road network and irrigation in Helmand Province for example. Has the economy really improved since the USSR's invasion? Let alone the latest Western intervention?

    Not a good place to test an economic theory IMO.

    davidbfpo
    Or not a good place to expect something like that to work?
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  8. #8
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA
    Posts
    1,117

    Default Dwifungsi?

    Any thoughts on the Indonesian system where 75% or more of military funding comes via private enterprise and the military have permenant seats in the government?
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
    ---

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •