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The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World

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  • ENGERMAN, STANLEY L.
  • SOKOLOFF, KENNETH L.

Abstract

Extreme variation in the extent of inequality emerged early across the New World colonies established by the Europeans, and we hypothesized in previous work that these contrasts persisted over time through systematic differences in the ability and inclination of elites to shape legal frameworks to advantage themselves. We find support for this view in how the rules governing the extension of suffrage evolved over time within the United States, and across the societies of the Americas. Polities with labor scarcity and greater equality generally led in broadening the franchise and attaining high rates of participation in elections.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 65 (2005)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 891-921

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:04:p:891-921_00

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
  3. Justman, Moshe & Gradstein, Mark, 1999. "The Industrial Revolution, Political Transition, and the Subsequent Decline in Inequality in 19th-Century Britain," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-127, April.
  4. Greenwood, J., 1996. "The Third Industrial Revolution," RCER Working Papers 435, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. William Newell, 1986. "Inheritance on the Maturing Frontier: Butler County, Ohio, 1803-1865," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 261-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1992. "Education, Democracy and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 613, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  9. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  10. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
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