from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The Democracy Advantage

How Democracies Promote Peace and Prosperity

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of The Democracy Advantage.

For decades, policies pursued by the United States and other industrialized nations toward the developing world have been based on a secret kept among policy experts: democracy and development don't mix. Turning this long-held view on its head, The Democracy Advantage makes a bold case that they do.

More on:



In this timely and path-breaking book, the authors dismantle the conventional wisdom that democratic reforms are destabilizing and that the West must rely on authoritarian regimes to create robust economies that give rise to a middle class and, eventually, democratic government. Uncovering forty years of empirical data from China, India, Chile, and Iraq, The Democracy Advantage shows that poor democracies surpass poor autocracies on nearly every economic measure. In addition, the book offers dramatic evidence that democracies are more stable: they are less likely to succumb to civil conflict, experience humanitarian catastrophes, or breed terrorists than such authoritarian countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Moving past the anecdotal data that have long shaped common assumptions about the trade-offs between democracy and development, The Democracy Advantage is based on an extensive review of historical experience, including critical analysis of the post-Cold War era—a time when many countries started down the road to democracy. The authors' discovery of a startling pattern of superior performance among democracies in the developing world—particularly among such quality of life measures as life expectancy, infant mortality, and girls' education—demand a strategic rethinking of international development policies.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

More on:



Reviews and Endorsements

This valuable and timely volume obliterates the myth-beloved of dictatorsthat democracy is somehow the enemy of development, rather than an essential ally. Here is a treasury of evidence that freedom is not only rightit works.

Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

A well-crafted book, supported by historical evidence, of how democracy advances development-with practical prescriptions for what the American government and other governments and international development organizations can do to build on this synergy.

George Soros, Soros Fund Management

Top Stories on CFR

United States

Temporary protected status has long been used as a humanitarian solution for migrants who are unable to return home safely, but efforts to give them a path to citizenship have reignited the debate around the U.S. immigration policy.  

Women and Women's Rights

The world’s nations are lagging woefully behind in meeting targets for achieving gender equality by 2030, but a new round of initiatives has stirred hope of progress.

United States

Amid renewed calls for changes in the world order, U.S. President Joe Biden sought to stress his support for greater inclusion of developing nations in addressing economic, social, and climate concerns.