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Partisan competition, growth and the franchise

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Abstract

We present an argument for changes in the franchise in which an elite split along economic interests use the suffrage to influence implemented policies. Through the influence of these policies on the character of industrialization, we analyze the effects of franchise changes on economic growth. We identify in the social structure of society an explanation for the connection between enfranchisement and growth: When (1) there exist an economic conflict among the elite, (2) landed classes are not politically strong, and (3) there exists a critical mass of industrial workers, we observe both growth and democratization. The lack of conditions (1) or (2) resolves in stagnant autocracies while the absence of condition (3) drives growth-deterring democratic expansions. We provide historical support for our argument by analyzing the experience of 11 countries.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 730.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
Date of revision: Sep 2004
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:730

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Franchise; growth; political competition; elites; industrialization;

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  17. Toynbee, Arnold, 1884. "Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number toynbee1884.
  18. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
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