A new GLO Discussion Paper finds no significant relationship between Protestant missions and the development of democracy.
The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 480, 2020
Conversionary Protestants do not cause democracy – Download PDF
by Nikolova, Elena & Polansky, Jakub
GLO Fellow Elena Nikolova
Author Abstract: In “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy”, Robert D. Woodberry (2012) claims that the emergence of stable democracies around the world was influenced by conversionary Protestantism. While Woodberry’s historical analysis is exhaustive, the accompanying empirical evidence suffers from severe inconsistencies. We replicate Woodberry’s analysis using 26 alternative democracy measures and extend the time period over which the democracy measures are averaged. These two simple modifications lead to the breakdown of Woodberry’s results. We find no significant relationship between Protestant missions and the development of democracy, which raises concerns about the robustness and broader applicability of Woodberry’s findings. We discuss some alternative explanations for Woodberry’s results which we hope can inform future research on this topic.
GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS, EconPapers). Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.