Learning democracy: Education and the fall of authoritarian regimes

Howard Sanborn, Clayton L. Thyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Studies on what causes a state to democratize have focused on economic, social, and international factors. Many of them argue that higher levels of education should promote democracy. However, few articulate clearly how education affects democratization, and fewer still attempt to test the supposed link across time and space. This article fills that gap by considering how different levels of education influence democratization, and the conditions under which education is most likely to promote democracy. Analyses of eighty-five authoritarian spells from 1970 to 2008 find that higher levels of mass, primary, and tertiary education are robustly associated with democratization. Secondary analyses indicate that education is most effective in promoting democratization when both males and females are educated. An illustration from Tunisia follows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-797
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 12 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2013.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Learning democracy: Education and the fall of authoritarian regimes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this