Democracy and development: Getting away from linear thinking to true understanding

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Speaker: Jack Goldstone

A video of Goldstone’s talk can be found below or on our Vimeo page.


The relation between democracy and economic development has long been debated, as to whether it is causal and in which direction. Yet this entire debate is an artifact of treating the relationship as a linear one between two variables. When a dynamic approach is taken, graphing the relation between democracy and development over time within societies, a set of highly non-linear patterns emerges. This calls for an entirely different explanation, in which the basic relationship between democracy and development is revealed as spurious.

Presenter bio

Jack A. Goldstone
Jack A. Goldstone (PhD Harvard) is the Virginia E. and John T. Hazel, Jr. Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, a senior fellow of the Mercatus Center, and a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. Previously, Goldstone was on the faculty of Northwestern University and the University of California, and has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, Stanford University, UCLA, and the California Institute of Technology. He has received the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship award from the American Sociological Association, the Arnoldo Momigliano Prize, the Barrington Moore Jr. Award, the Myron Weiner Award, and fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the JS Guggenheim Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Mellon Foundation. He recently served as the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Visitor to the American Academy in Berlin.

A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Goldstone is also an academic fellow of the European Policy Council, and serves on the International Advisory Board of the Gaidar Institute (Moscow).

Goldstone’s research focuses on the impact of global population changes on social and economic development. His 2010 essay in Foreign Affairs, “The New Population Bomb: The Four Megatrends that will Change the World,” has been widely cited as a critical guide to the impact of future population change. He has been a keynote speaker at events in Oslo, Moscow, Antalya, Delhi, Beijing, Berlin, Aspen and New York, and appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, and Fox News.

His recent books include Political Demography: How Population Changes are Reshaping International Security and National Politics (Oxford U. Press, 2012) and Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction, released by Oxford U. Press earlier this year. You can follow his insights on global politics and economic trends on Goldstone's blog New Population Bomb.

Remote video URL

Goldstone was also part of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Signature Lecture series.