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Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions

June 20, 2013

Many developing countries have launched transitions from authoritarianism to democracy over the past twenty-five years. While some have succeeded in building relatively strong democracies with shared prosperity, others have stumbled.

As a wave of change continues to unfold across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the policy-relevant insights that can be gleaned from recent transitions are more salient than ever. Through case studies on Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine, Pathways to Freedom explores the structural factors and policy choices that shaped eight important transitions—some successful, others less so. The case studies focus on six themes: socioeconomic inclusion and exclusion, economic structure and policies, civil society and media, legal system and rule of law, government structure, and education and demography. Additional chapters examine these themes in light of the quantitative evidence on democratization and highlight concrete policy recommendations from across the case studies.

With concise historical analysis and forward-looking prescriptions, Pathways to Freedom offers an authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies -- and what the United States and others can do to help.

Grzegorz Ekiert, Professor of Government, Harvard University
George Soroka, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University
Jan Teorell, Professor of Political Science, Lund University

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