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Distributional Disputes and Civil Conflict

  • Herschel Grossman

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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Article provided by Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. in its journal Cuadernos de Economía-Latin American Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2003)
Issue (Month): 121 ()
Pages: 608-616

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Handle: RePEc:ioe:cuadec:v:40:y:2003:i:121:p:608-616
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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. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1027-56 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 2088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Herschel Grossman, 2002. "Constitution or Conflict?," Working Papers 2002-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
  6. Herschel I. Grossman, 2013. "Choosing Between Peace and War," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 765-783, November.
  7. 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.
  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. Dimitriy Gershenson & Herschel I. Grossman, 1999. "Civil Conflict: Ended Or Never Ending?," Working Papers 99-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2001. "Social decision rules are not immune to conflict," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 59-67, 03.
  11. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  12. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
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