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Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"

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  • Alessandro Lizzeri
  • Nicola Persico

Abstract

A new rationale is presented for why an elite may want to expand the franchise even in the absence of threats to the established order. Expanding the franchise can turn politicians away from particularistic politics based on ad personam redistribution within the elite and foster competition based on programs with diffuse benefits. If these programs are valuable, a majority of the elite votes in favor of an extension of the franchise despite the absence of a threat from the disenfranchised. We a rgue that the evolution of public spending and of political competition in nineteenth century Britain is consistent with our model. © 2004 MIT Press

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 119 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 705-763

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:2:p:705-763

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  2. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2003. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Engerman, Stanley L. & Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 2005. "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 891-921, December.
  4. John P. Conley & Akram Temimi, 2001. "Endogenous Enfranchisement When Groups' Preferences Conflict," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 79-102, February.
  5. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  6. J. Veverka, 1963. "The Growth Of Government Expenditure In The United Kingdom Since 1790," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 10(1), pages 111-127, 02.
  7. Huck, Paul, 1995. "Infant Mortality and Living Standards of English Workers During the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(03), pages 528-550, September.
  8. Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, May.
  9. Humberto Llavador & Robert J. Oxoby, 2005. "Partisan Competition, Growth, and the Franchise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1155-1192, August.
  10. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  11. Fleck, Robert K & Hanssen, F Andrew, 2006. "The Origins of Democracy: A Model with Application to Ancient Greece," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 115-46, April.
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