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The implications of demographic and environmental stress for political change in developing states: A cross -national assessment

Cameron MacGregor Otopalik, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Research to date regarding the implications of demographic and environmental stress for political conflict (usually defined as involving some level of violence) has predominantly been case-study oriented and subject to selection bias where cases have been chosen on the basis of existent political conflict thus bringing into question the reliability of conclusions derived. Where cross-national studies have been conducted, their concentration on primarily demographic features have demonstrated only weak relationships and are somewhat dated. Where transnational environmental sources of political conflict have been investigated, they rarely extend beyond the issue of freshwater. Furthermore, the above bodies of research have largely failed to consider the mediating or intervening effects of political and economic factors. ^ This study offers a departure from previous research by taking advantage of newly available data utilizing Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) multiple regression and path analysis model-building techniques in a cross-sectional and cross national approach to assess the relationship between demographic and environmental stresses and political change (defined here as change in domestic governance). Regime type and economic factors are incorporated which may exacerbate or ameliorate the effects of these stresses. ^ In the literature, Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) are held to suffer disproportionately from demographic and environmental stress due to their unique circumstances and thus provide a subset of developing country cases against which to test the proposition that they experience more domestic political change. While the findings of this study found no support for this hypothesis, the conditions found in these cases did provide meaningful variable selection guidance for testing the hypothesis that countries in the larger universe of developing states suffering from greater demographic and environmental stress overall experience more domestic political change. While causal connections cannot be assumed or demonstrated in this study, the results find a moderate level of support for the contention of an association between these stresses and political change in the domestic realm and generally bolster the findings of case-study research by way of a more methodologically rigorous approach. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, General|Political Science, International Law and Relations

Recommended Citation

Otopalik, Cameron MacGregor, "The implications of demographic and environmental stress for political change in developing states: A cross -national assessment" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967399.