This essay synthesizes the results of the large number of studies of late–20th-century democratization published during the last 20 years. Strong evidence supports the claims that democracy is more likely in more developed coun-tries and that regime transitions of all kinds are more likely during economic downturns. Very few of the other arguments advanced in the transitions litera-ture, however, appear to be generally true. This study proposes a theoretical model, rooted in characteristics of different types of authoritarian regimes, to explain many of the differences in democratization experience across cases in different regions. Evidence drawn from a data set that includes 163 authoritarian regimes offers preliminary support for the model proposed.