Date of Thesis



Over the past four decades, the number of democracies in the world has increased exponentially. This project considers how democracy and FDI affect economic growth as well as whether the impact of FDI depends on the level of democracy in a country. Thus, I explore two major research questions: 1) Whether increased FDI speeds up economic growth, controlling for political regime type, urbanization and other developmental indicators; and 2) Whether an increase in political freedom helps or hinders economic growth, and specifically whether the impact of FDI varies depending on the political regime in the recipient country. To examine these questions, this paper used data from 150 countries over a period between 1980 and 2010 and utilized several models, testing variables such as institutions, agglomerations, urbanization, FDI and type of political regime, among others, for their impact on economic growth. I found that FDI does have a positive impact on economic growth, and that this impact is often magnified when it interacts with other relevant factors. I also found that, after controlling for other variables, FDI inflows do not have a different impact on economic growth in autocracies than they do in democracies. This may be partially explained by autocratic outliers such as China and the OPEC states, which have recently experienced rapid export-led growth. This suggests that factors such as education could have a greater impact on a country¿s economic growth than does its political system.


FDI, econometrics, autocracy, democracy, economic growth

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Christopher Magee

Second Advisor

Jan Knoedler