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The Origins of Democracy: A Model with Application to Ancient Greece

  • Fleck, Robert K
  • Hanssen, F Andrew

This paper seeks to provide an improved understanding of the origins of democracy. It begins by developing a theoretical model to demonstrate how exogenous economic conditions can influence the incentives to establish democratic institutions. The model predicts that democratic institutions will expand where they mitigate important time-inconsistency problems and, therefore, encourage investment. Exogenous conditions determine the magnitude of those time-inconsistency problems and, hence, the likelihood of democracy. A comparison of ancient Greek city-states suggests that the conditions under which democracy first emerged support the model. Other potential applications are discussed.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/501088
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 49 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 115-46

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2006:v:49:i:1:p:115-46
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Alston, Lee J & Libecap, Gary D & Schneider, Robert, 1996. "The Determinants and Impact of Property Rights: Land Titles on the Brazilian Frontier," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 25-61, April.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barzel, Yoram, 1992. "Confiscation by the Ruler: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Lending in the Middle Ages," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 1-13, April.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
  5. Anthony Bottomley, 1963. "The Effect of the Common Ownership of Land upon Resource Allocation in Tripolitania," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1), pages 91-95.
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