IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies

  • Daron Acemoglu

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

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 under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 6 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 1-44

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:1-44
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/jeea

Order Information: Web: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/jeea

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  3. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2004. "Land Inequality and the Origin of Divergence and Overtaking in the Growth Process: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2003-04, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
  6. 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.
  7. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2013. "Dynastic Management," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 971-996, 01.
  8. J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 4274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Konstantin Sonin, 2002. "Why the Rich May Favor Poor Protection of Property Rights," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 544, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521570619 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "The Form of Property Rights: Oligarchic vs. Democratic Societies," NBER Working Papers 10037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 1211-19, December.
  14. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521473972 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

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: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.