IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/tpr/jeurec/v6y2008i1p1-44.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies

Author

Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu

Abstract

This paper develops a model to analyze economic performance under different political regimes. An "oligarchic" society, where political power is in the hands of major producers, protects their property rights but also tends to erect significant entrybarriers against new entrepreneurs. Democracy, where political power is more widely diffused, imposes redistributive taxes on producers, but tends to avoid entry barriers. When taxes in democracy are high and the distortions caused by entry barriers are low, an oligarchic society achieves greater efficiency. Because comparative advantage in entrepreneurship shifts away from the incumbents, the inefficiency created by entry barriers in oligarchy deteriorates over time. The typical pattern is one of rise and decline of oligarchic societies: An oligarchic society may first become richer, but later fall behind a similar democratic society. I also discuss how democracies may be better able to take advantage of new technologies, how within-elite conflict in oligarchies might cause a transition to democracy, and how the unequal distribution of income may keep inefficient oligarchic institutions in place. (JEL: P16, O10) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu, 2008. "Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-44, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:1-44
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1542-4774/issues
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    2. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    3. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2013. "Dynastic Management," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 971-996, January.
    4. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
    5. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2003. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
    7. Sonin, Konstantin, 2003. "Why the rich may favor poor protection of property rights," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 715-731, December.
    8. Leamer, Edward E. & Maul, Hugo & Rodriguez, Sergio & Schott, Peter K., 1999. "Does natural resource abundance increase Latin American income inequality?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 3-42, June.
    9. Ramseyer,J. Mark & Rosenbluth,Frances McCall, 1998. "The Politics of Oligarchy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521636490, February.
    10. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    11. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
    12. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
    13. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    14. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "The Form of Property Rights: Oligarchic vs. Democratic Societies," NBER Working Papers 10037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World1," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
    16. de Vries,Jan & van der Woude,Ad, 1997. "The First Modern Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521570619, February.
    17. Trezise, Philip H., 1982. "MITI and the Japanese miracle: The growth of industrial policy, 1925-1975 : , Stanford, California: Stanford Univ. Press, 1982. x + 363 pp., index. $28.50," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 436-439, December.
    18. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
    19. de Vries,Jan & van der Woude,Ad, 1997. "The First Modern Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521578257, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Acemoglu, Daron, 2008. "Oligarchikus és demokratikus társadalmak [Oligarchic versus democratic societies]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 622-659.
    2. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "The Form of Property Rights: Oligarchic vs. Democratic Societies," NBER Working Papers 10037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gradstein, Mark, 2005. "Democracy, Property Rights, Redistribution and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 5130, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Daron Acemoglu, 2006. "Modeling Inefficient Institutions," NBER Working Papers 11940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lionel Artige & Carmen Camacho & David De La Croix, 2004. "Wealth Breeds Decline: Reversals of Leadership and Consumption Habits," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 423-449, December.
    6. Manuel Oechslin, 2009. "Creditor protection and the dynamics of the distribution in oligarchic societies," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 313-344, December.
    7. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472, Elsevier.
    8. Nobuhiro Mizuno & Katsuyuki Naito & Ryosuke Okazawa, 2017. "Inequality, extractive institutions, and growth in nondemocratic regimes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 170(1), pages 115-142, January.
    9. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
    10. Asoni, Andrea, 2008. "Protection of Property Rights and Growth as Political Equilibria," Working Paper Series 737, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    11. Takuma Kunieda & Masashi Takahashi, 2019. "Inequality and Institutional Quality in a Growth Model," Discussion Paper Series 198, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University.
    12. Pablo Bandeira, 2009. "Instituciones y desarrollo económico. Un marco conceptual," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 11(20), pages 355-373, January-J.
    13. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
    14. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
    15. James A. Robinson, 2006. "Equity, Institutions and the Development Process," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 32, pages 17-50.
    16. Abdoul’ Mijiyawa, 2013. "Determinants of property rights institutions: survey of literature and new evidence," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 127-183, May.
    17. Besley, Timothy & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2010. "Property Rights and Economic Development," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4525-4595, Elsevier.
    18. Campante, Filipe R. & Ferreira, Francisco H.G., 2007. "Inefficient lobbying, populism and oligarchy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 993-1021, June.
    19. Congdon Fors, Heather & Olsson, Ola, 2007. "Endogenous institutional change after independence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 1896-1921, November.
    20. Daron Acemoglu & Suresh Naidu & Pascual Restrepo & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Democracy, Redistribution and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 19746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:1-44. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/jeea .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ann Olson (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/jeea .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.