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Financial Asset Holdings and Political Attitudes: Evidence from Revolutionary England

Author

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  • Saumitra Jha

Abstract

The English Parliament’s struggle for supremacy against monarchical dictatorship during the Civil War (1642–1648) was crucial for the establishment of representative government, yet its lessons continue to be debated. I exploit novel data on individual MPs drawn from 1,842 biographies to show that the conflict was over overseas interests and other factors over which the executive enjoyed broad constitutional discretion, rather than over domestic property rights. I further exploit the coincidence of individual MPs’ ability to sign legally binding share contracts with novel share offerings by overseas companies to measure the effect of overseas share investment on their political attitudes. I show that overseas shareholding pushed moderates lacking prior mercantile interests to support reform. I interpret the effect of financial assetholding as allowing new investors to exploit emerging economic opportunities overseas, aligning their interests with traders. By consolidating a broad parliamentary majority that favored reform, the introduction of financial assets also broadened support for the institutionalization of parliamentary supremacy over dictatorial rule. JEL Codes: O10, G11, F10, K00, N23, P10.

Suggested Citation

  • Saumitra Jha, 2015. "Financial Asset Holdings and Political Attitudes: Evidence from Revolutionary England," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1485-1545.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:130:y:2015:i:3:p:1485-1545.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjv019
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "The political economy of educational content and development: Lessons from history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 233-244.
    3. Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2014. "Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(1), pages 77-112.
    4. Diego Puga & Daniel Trefler, 2014. "International Trade and Institutional Change: Medieval Venice’s Response to Globalization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 753-821.
    5. Greif, Avner & Tabellini, Guido, 2017. "The clan and the corporation: Sustaining cooperation in China and Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 1-35.
    6. Erik O. Kimbrough & Kevin Laughren & Roman Sheremeta, 2017. "War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends," Discussion Papers dp17-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    7. Dan Bogart, 2016. "The East Indian Monopoly and the Transition from Limited Access in England, 1600–1813," NBER Chapters,in: Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development, pages 23-49 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Vollmer, Sebastian & Heldring, Leander & Robinson, James A., 2014. "Monks, Gents and Industrialists: The Long-Run Impact of the Dissolution of the English Monasteries," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100275, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Oscar Gelderblom & Joost Jonker & Enrico C. Perotti, 2017. "The Emergence of the Corporate Form," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(2), pages 193-236.
    10. Charles Angelucci & Simone Meraglia & Nico Voigtländer, 2017. "The Medieval Roots of Inclusive Institutions: From the Norman Conquest of England to the Great Reform Act," NBER Working Papers 23606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ran Abramitzky, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," NBER Working Papers 21636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General

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