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Democracy in America: Labor Mobility, Ideology, and Constitutional Reform

  • Congleton, R.D.

Constitutional democracy in the United States emerged very gradually through a long series of constitutional bargains in the course of three centuries. No revolutions or revolutionary threats were necessary or evident during most of the three century–long transition to constitutional democracy in America. As in Europe, legislative authority gradually increased, wealth-based suffrage laws were gradually eliminated, the secret ballot was introduced, and the power of elected officials increased. For the most part, this occurred peacefully and lawfully, with few instances of open warfare or revolutionary threats. A theory of constitutional exchange grounded in rational choice models provides a good explanation for the distinctive features of American constitutional history, as it does for much of the West, although it does less well at explaining the timing of some changes.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0764.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0764
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Congleton, Roger D., 1991. "Ideological conviction and persuasion in the rent-seeking society," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 65-86, February.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Roger Congleton & Andreas Kyriacou & Jordi Bacaria, 2003. "A Theory of Menu Federalism: Decentralization by Political Agreement," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 167-190, September.
  4. Roger Congleton, 2001. "On the Durability of King and Council: The Continuum Between Dictatorship and Democracy," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 193-215, September.
  5. Congleton, Roger D., 2007. "From royal to parliamentary rule without revolution: The economics of constitutional exchange within divided governments," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 261-284, June.
  6. Roger D. Congleton, 2004. "Mutual Advantages of Coercion and Exit within Private Clubs and Treaty Organizations: Towards a Logic of Voluntary Association," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 94(4), pages 49-78, July-Augu.
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