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Distributional Disputes and Civil Conflict

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  • Herschel I. Grossman

Abstract

Some polities are able to use constitutionally prescribed political processes to settle distributional disputes, whereas in other polities distributional disputes result in civil conflict. Theoretical analysis reveals that the following properties help to make it possible to design a self-enforcing constitution that can settle recurring distributional disputes between social classes without civil conflict: *Neither social class has a big advantage in civil conflict. *The expected incremental costs of civil conflict are large relative to aggregate appropriable economic rents. *Both social classes are greatly concerned about the future consequences of their current actions. Theoretical analysis also reveals that a self-enforcing constitution can require limitations on the prerogatives of winners of constitutional contests such that on average the distribution of appropriable economic rents under the constitution is not too favorable to one social class or the other and such that the outcome of a constitutional contest does not matter too much for the current distribution of economic rents.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9794.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Publication status: published as Herschel Grossman, 2003. "Distributional Disputes and Civil Conflict," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 40(121), pages 608-616.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9794

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2001. "A Theory of Political Transitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 938-963, September.
  2. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Scholarly Articles 12491028, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Esteban, J. & Ray, D., 1999. "Social Decision Rules Are Not Immune to Conflict," Papers 22, El Instituto de Estudios Economicos de Galicia Pedro Barrie de la Maza.
  5. Herschel I. Grossman, 2013. "Choosing Between Peace and War," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 765-783, November.
  6. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 2088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  8. Buchanan, James M & Faith, Roger L, 1987. "Secession and the Limits of Taxation: Toward a Theory of Internal Exit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1023-31, December.
  9. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  10. Dimitriy Gershenson & Herschel I. Grossman, 1999. "Civil Conflict: Ended Or Never Ending?," Working Papers 99-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  11. Herschel I. Grossman, 2002. "Constitution or Conflict?," NBER Working Papers 8733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Herschel I. Grossman, 2013. "Choosing Between Peace and War," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 765-783, November.

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