What is the impact of disease burden on democracy in sub-Saharan Africa? Despite increasing interest in the implications of health crises for state stability, there has been a dearth of literature exploring the relationship between disease burden more generally and democracy specifically. This thesis takes a comprehensive approach to bridge this gap in the literature. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, it draws on data from the Global Burden of Disease database and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset to analyze this relationship. The diseases studied are categorized as long-wave (e.g., HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis), short-wave (e.g., Ebola and lower respiratory infections), or endemic (e.g., malaria and an aggregate of other infectious diseases). In terms of democracy, this thesis focuses on civil liberties and civil society. Having utilized a linear regression, controlling for economic variables, this study found a positive and significant relationship between long-wave diseases and both civil liberties and civil society; a negative and significant relationship between Ebola and both civil liberties and civil society; a positive and significant relationship between lower respiratory infections and both civil liberties and civil society; and, finally, a positive and significant relationship between the other infectious disease aggregate and civil society. Ultimately, there was no significant relationship between the other diseases studied and the democratic variables. By identifying past relationships between particular kinds of diseases and manifestations of democracy, we can establish a baseline from which to project our expectations about how emerging diseases like COVID-19 will impact the practice of democracy.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs
Reynolds, Abigail E., "Disease and Democracy: Understanding the Impact of Disease Burden on Civil Liberties and Civil Society in sub-Saharan Africa" (2021). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 987.