A Time-Series, Multinational Analysis of Democratic Forecasts and Emerging Media Diffusion, 1994–2014

Jacob Groshek, Kate Mays


In the last decade, the Internet has become more widely diffused and mobile, developing into a more interactive, globalized space with greater potential for democratic participation and mobilization. An earlier study by Groshek (2010) found that from 1994 to 2003, the Internet had limited national-level democratic effects, which suggested that Internet diffusion should not be considered a democratic panacea, but rather a component of contemporary democratization processes. Updating those analyses, this study used the same sample of 72 countries to examine the democratic effects of the Internet and mobile phones from 2004 to 2014 by replicating Groshek’s time-series statistical tests. This study also found very limited evidence that emerging media diffusion resulted in augmented democratization, with only four countries—Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan—demonstrating greater democracy levels than were statistically predicted. Within a framework of diffusion of innovations and demand for democracy, this study extends the current understanding of emerging media’s role in democratic development, and represents an important step in identifying the limited agency that emerging media diffusion has shown in cultivating democratic growth nationally.


democratic development, Internet access, mobile phones, diffusion of innovations, ARIMA forecasting, time-series analysis

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