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Income Inequality and the Taste for Revolution

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  • MacCulloch, Robert

Abstract

Although property rights are the cornerstone of market economies, throughout history existing claims have been frequently overturned by revolutions. One unsettled question is whether income inequality affects the likelihood of revolt. This paper takes an approach different from previous studies by introducing data derived from two surveys of revolutionary preferences across a quarter-million randomly sampled individuals. More people are found to have a preference for revolt when inequality in their nation is high. A 1-standard-deviation increase in the Gini coefficient explains up to 38 percent of the standard deviation in revolutionary support. The results hold after controlling for a set of personal characteristics and country and year fixed effects. Since higher levels of income are found to have a negative impact on the taste for revolt, the results suggest that either "going for growth" or implementing policies that reduce inequality can buy off those individuals with revolutionary preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • MacCulloch, Robert, 2005. "Income Inequality and the Taste for Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 93-123, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2005:v:48:i:1:p:93-123
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/426881
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sameeksha Desai & Zoltan J. Acs & Utz Weitzel, 2013. "A Model of Destructive Entrepreneurship," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 57(1), pages 20-40, February.
    2. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2010. "The Roles of Freedom, Growth, and Religion in the Taste for Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 329-358, May.
    3. Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza & Krieger, Tim, 2017. "The response of income inequality to positive oil rents shocks in Iran: Implications for the post-sanction period," Discussion Paper Series 2017-04, University of Freiburg, Wilfried Guth Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy.
    4. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2007. "Diversity and Crowd-out: A Theory of Cold-Glow Giving," NBER Working Papers 13348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Tim Krieger & Daniel Meierrieks, 2016. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Terrorism?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5821, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Militiades N. Georgiou & Nicholas Kyriazis & Emmanouil M. L. Economou, 2015. "Democracy, Political Stability and Economic performance. A Panel Data Analysis," Journal of Risk & Control, Risk Market Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 1-18.
    7. Adedokun, Ayokunu, 2017. "Post-conflict peacebuilding: A critical survey of the literature and avenues for future research," MERIT Working Papers 016, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    8. Duha Altindag & Naci Mocan, 2010. "Joblessness and Perceptions about the Effectiveness of Democracy," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 99-123, June.
    9. Mehdi Shadmehr & Peter Haschke, 2016. "Youth, Revolution, And Repression," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 778-793, April.
    10. Džuverovic Nemanja, 2013. "Does more (or less) lead to violence? Application of the relative deprivation hypothesis on economic inequality-induced conflicts," Croatian International Relations Review, Sciendo, vol. 19(68), pages 53-72, July.
    11. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2009. "Crowd-out and diversity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 729-740, June.
    12. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Tim Krieger, 2018. "Oil Rents Shocks and Inequality in Iran," CESifo Working Paper Series 6876, CESifo Group Munich.

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