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Some Criticism of Recent Work on World System Status, Inequality, and Democracy

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Bollen (1983) and Nolan (1983b) claim that world system status influences income distribution and democratic performance in less developed countries for the worse. While they did control for the effects of the level of economic development and while they could demonstrate that the Snyder and Kick (1979) measures of world system status contribute to the explanation of cross-national variance in inequality and democracy, they investigated neither the relationship between world system status and development status classifications nor the problem of overfitting. Here it is argued that so-called world system status is hardly distinguishable from development status, that either set of status dummies contributes to the explanation of income inequality or democracy only by overfitting. Therefore, previous research by Bollen and Nolan arrives at mistaken conclusions on the relationship between world system status on the one hand and income inequality and political democracy on the other.


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