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A Theory of Political Transitions

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • James A. Robinson

Abstract

We develop a theory of political transitions inspired by the experiences of Western Europe and Latin America. Nondemocratic societies are controlled by a rich elite. The initially disenfranchised poor can contest power by threatening revolution, especially when the opportunity cost is low, for example, during recessions. The threat of revolution may force the elite to democratize. Democracy may not consolidate because it is redistributive, and so gives the elite an incentive to mount a coup. Highly unequal societies are less likely to consolidate democracy, and may end up oscillating between regimes and suffer substantial fiscal volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2001. "A Theory of Political Transitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 938-963, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:4:p:938-963
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.4.938
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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