In my dissertation, which you can download below, I showed that inequality does not diminish after democratization, and I asked why it is that new democracies cannot generate income equality. I then explored the determinants of inequality and offered two interrelated arguments that explained the paradox of democratization and increased inequality. First, low political participation by the poor and underinstitutionalized political party systems increase targeted social spending for electoral purposes. Second, as the level of targeted spending increases, its regressive effect on economic equality goes up as well. Here, I discussed the linkage between social groups and political parties, in some cases going back to the authoritarian era, and how these links lead these political parties to use targeted spending in volatile electoral contexts. The upshot of this outcome is inefficient social spending at the expense of the poor.
I adopted a multi-method technique to test the theory of my dissertation, which enabled me to hone in on the causal processes at work and verify the theory in a more general framework. In doing so, I used one large-N regression analysis and two paired case studies. The case studies examined two regions in Europe that were democratized during the Third Wave. I used the “most similar system” research design, pairing Turkey and Spain in southern Europe and the Czech Republic and Poland in the postcommunist region. I then discussed the degree to which it could be generalized to Russia and other regions.