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South African Democracy and National Economic Performance


Democracy can be defined as a political regime that is characterized by the supreme power belonging to people. The opposition is an autocracy, which is a region where all the power belongs to one person. The promotion of democracy tends to boost hopes for the improvement of the level of well-being which tends to accompany the democratic transformation. In the long run, it has been admitted that industrially developed countries have proven to have the most dynamic, innovative, and productive economies in the world. The stability of the growth, the responsibility of the financial institutions, and the protection of the property rights in the democracies allow them to accumulate and strengthen the changes for the better in the quality of life of the citizens from one generation to another (O’Neill et al. 23-24). It is necessary to note that property rights are a set of laws that defend property.

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It is important to point out that 80 percent of all today’s democratic transformations have been taking place in developing countries. There exists an opinion that counties that have been undergoing democratization are prone to economic disasters if they are not prepared for democracy. This viewpoint happens to have been justified by the fact that, in general, in Africa, the living conditions have not changed for the better in spite of some African countries’ movement towards democracy. Hence, a paradox has been faced. The present-day society has made crucial steps to a more democratic governing. However, it has not been replied yet whether the changes in the governing mode are likely to influence global prosperity (O’Neill et al. 24-25).

In South Africa, the shift towards democracy has been characterized by a notable range of outcomes. The economic and social progress which has been achieved in South Africa over the past three decades has been significant. Since the mid-1990s, it has guaranteed a fifteen-percent median growth in revenues per head. So as to compare, it is necessary to have a look at the following statics: autocratic states have reached only a seven-percent growth of revenues. Besides, it is important to take into account that in such countries as Sudan, Cameron, Gabon, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea, the growth has been guaranteed by petroleum. Apart from that, the majority of autocratic and semi-autocratic states have had negative or null growth since 1995 (O’Neill et al. 708-709).

The stable economic growth in South Africa has contributed to the improvement of life conditions. Since 1990, the child death rate has fallen by eighteen percent. In many other African democracies, it has fallen by fourteen percent. However, in autocratic and semi-autocratic states, the level of the child death rate has been the same since 1990. In other words, contrary to the population in South Africa, with its democratic regime, the majority of the population in autocratic countries, such as Gabon, Cameron, Congo, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Angola, has not experienced any improvements of the life quality O’Neill et al. 710).

However, the connection between democracy and success in national economic performance does not prove to be universal. Not all developing democratic countries have had more effective growth than some authoritarian states, for example, Egypt and Tunisia. The economies of the two states have enjoyed some economic growth since the 1990s (O’Neill et al. 711).


Thus, democracy does not appear to be an obligatory condition for economic improvements and prosperity of the population. Non-democratic countries might be prosperous, whereas democratizing states might be facing dramatic trouble in their transformational way. However, the major tendency is that democracy does improve the well-being of the population.

Work Cited

O’Neill, Patrick H., et al. Cases in Comparative Politics, W.W. Norton& Company, 2015.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 10). South African Democracy and National Economic Performance. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, February 10). South African Democracy and National Economic Performance.

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