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Democracy as a middle ground: A unified theory of development and political regimes

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  • Seim, Anna Larsson
  • Parente, Stephen L.

Abstract

Although many of the worst performing countries over the post-World War II period were autocracies, many of the best were likewise autocratic. At the same time, no long-lived autocracy currently is rich whereas every long-lived democracy is. This paper proposes a theory to account for these observations that rests on the ideas that autocrats are heterogeneous and that elites experience lower land rents with industrialization. In a model calibrated to Britain's development, we show that elites democratize society only after the economy has accumulated enough wealth, and that the democratization date depends importantly on the history of rulers and distribution of land.

Suggested Citation

  • Seim, Anna Larsson & Parente, Stephen L., 2013. "Democracy as a middle ground: A unified theory of development and political regimes," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 35-56.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:64:y:2013:i:c:p:35-56
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2013.08.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Flachaire, Emmanuel & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia & Konte, Maty, 2014. "Political versus economic institutions in the growth process," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 212-229.
    2. Michael Dorsch & Paul Maarek, 2016. "Democratization and the conditional dynamics of income distribution," Working Papers hal-01350968, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autocracy; Democracy; Elites; Unified growth; Land inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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