Seminar with John Gerring, University of Texas at Austin

He will present the paper "Harbors and Democracy". The paper is co-authored with Tore Wig (UiO), Andreas Tollefsen (PRIO), and Brendan Apfield (University of Texas at Austin).


This paper adds to the growing literature on the deep historical determinants of political development by examining the relationship between natural harbors that enable deepwater seafaring and the historical development of democracy. We argue that the historical presence of natural harbors enhanced connectivity with the world, and thus fostered development, the bargaining power of citizens vis-à-vis the state, naval-based militaries, and diffusion of ideas and institutions. Through these pathways, operative over many centuries, areas blessed with natural harbors that enabled seafaring were more likely to develop democratic forms of government in the modern and early modern eras. Drawing on a novel geographic dataset comprising historical country-borders going back to 1789, and geocoded information on the location of natural harbors (on rivers and coasts), we test this argument on a comprehensive global sample of countries in the 1789-2013 period. We find that the presence of natural harbors conduces democratic regime type, at the level of countries (the outcome) and subnational grid-cells (the treatment). We go on to provide evidence consistent with our four generative mechanisms.

Published Jan. 26, 2018 12:52 PM - Last modified Jan. 26, 2018 12:52 PM