We present a theory of the choice of alternative democratic constitutions, a majoritarian or a consensual one, in an unequal society. We show that a consensual system turns out to be preferred by society when "ex ante" income inequality is relatively low, while a majoritarian system is chosen when income inequality is relatively high. We also find that consensual democracies should be expected to be ruled more often by centre-left coalitions while the right should have an advantage in majoritarian constitutions. The implications for the relationship between inequality and redistribution are discussed. Historical evidence and a cross-sectional analysis support our results. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.
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Volume (Year): 120 (2010)
Issue (Month): 543 (03)
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