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Why is there no Revolution in North-Korea? The Political Economy of Revolution Revisited

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  • Thomas Apolte

Abstract

In this paper the political economy of revolutions is revisited, as it has been developed and applied in a number of publications by Acemoglu and Robinson. We criticize the fact that these authors abstract from collective-action problems and focus on inequality of income or wealth instead. In doing so, they reanimate a long but misleading tradition in social sciences, namely to directly deduct prospective group behavior from the collective interest of a group. We show that, because of collective-action problems, income inequality is not a sufficient condition for a revolution to occur. Furthermore, we also show that inequality does not even need to be a necessary condition, since all what is needed in order for a group to be interested in a revolution is that this group as a whole can expect to be a beneficiary of a revolution. For the latter to apply, however, inequality is not necessary. Hence, not inequality but rather a certain structure of commitment devices or their absence is crucial for explaining why revolutions sometimes occur and sometimes not.

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Paper provided by Institute of Spatial and Housing Economics, Munster Universitary in its series Working Papers with number 200102.

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Handle: RePEc:muc:wpaper:200102

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Keywords: Credible Commitments; Dictatorship; Political Economy; Redistribution;

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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521583299 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Congleton,Roger D., 2011. "Perfecting Parliament," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521764605, October.
  3. Eli Berman & David D. Laitin, 2008. "Religion, Terrorism and Public Goods: Testing the Club Model," NBER Working Papers 13725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2001. "A Theory of Political Transitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 938-963, September.
  5. Timothy Besley & Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2007. "Making Autocracy Work," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 48, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  7. 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.
  8. Howitt, Peter & Wintrobe, Ronald, 1995. "The political economy of inaction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 329-353, March.
  9. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2000. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521794497, October.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
  11. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "The Political Economy of the Kuznets Curve," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 183-203, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Apolte, Thomas, 2012. "Toward a more general approach to political stability in comparative political systems," CIW Discussion Papers 01/2012, University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW).
  2. Apolte, Thomas, 2013. "The supply of democracy explaining voluntary democratic transition," CIW Discussion Papers 6/2013, University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW).

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