Economic Liberalization, Regime Type, and the Abuse of Physical Integrity Rights

Iliev, Radoslav Rumenov, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Echeverri-Gent, John, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This crossnational study examines the impact of economic growth, income inequality, and economic liberalization on governmental abuse of human rights (physical integrity rights). I advance two propositions that go beyond current analyses. First, economic development has followed in advanced industrialized democracies but a different path in less-developed nations where it has contributed little to improving respect for human rights. Second, whether the pressures of financial and trade liberalization improve or worsen human rights conditions depends on the amplifier effect of existing political institutions (regime type). Quantitative tests using ordered logit on a 160-country sample spanning seventeen years (1977-1993) show empirical support for both propositions. First, economic inequality is, but economic growth is not a substantive correlate of human rights abuse in less developed countries. Second, democracies that liberalize their economies tend to have better human rights records than democracies with closed economies, while the reverse is true of autocratic governments. Autocracies that liberalize economically have worse human rights records than autocracies with less open economies.

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MA (Master of Arts)
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