Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Economics

Committee Chair

Katrina L. Mullan

Commitee Members

Jeffrey T. Bookwalter, Timothy A. Manuel


Environmental quality, political institutions, democratic government, autocratic government, components of democracy, countries with different income levels


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Economics | Environmental Studies | Political Economy


My research question is whether democratic countries improve the environment. This research question is important because many nowadays people are more than ever concerned about environmental quality, and researchers have produced mixed results of democratic governments’ effects on the environment. As an attempt to contribute to this area of research, I implement three different types of heterogeneity in the relationships between democratic countries and environmental quality. These three different types of heterogeneity include different environmental outcomes, separate components of democracy, and countries with different income levels. By using these three different types of heterogeneity, I may better understand the mechanisms through which democratic countries affect the environment. Although previous studies using countries around the world report that democratic governments usually improve environmental quality, I find that democratic countries have an insignificant effect on the environment when I include 145 countries at the same time. However, I find that democratic governments sometimes have effects (usually positive) on environmental quality when I implement the three different types of heterogeneity into my analyses. When different environmental outcomes are considered, democratic countries reduce or have an insignificant effect on carbon reductions, increase or have an insignificant effect on protected areas. When individual components of democracy are considered, executive constraints are found to be the most informative component of democracy. Finally, when the countries with different income groups are considered, democracy in low-income countries reduces carbon emissions, and in high-income countries reduces carbon emissions and increases the size of protected areas.



© Copyright 2015 Yoonsoo Nam