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Workers of the World, Unite! Franchise Extensions and the Threat of Revolution in Europe, 1820-1938

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  • Toke Aidt
  • Peter S. Jensen

Abstract

This paper tests the hypothesis that the extension of the voting franchise was caused by the threat of revolution, as suggested by Acemoglu and Robinson [Quarterly Journal of Economics 115, 1167-1199, 2000]. We approximate the threat of revolution in a given country by revolutionary events happening in neighboring countries. We investigate the relationship between this new measure of the threat of revolution and measures of suffrage reform in two samples of European countries covering the period from 1820 to 1938. We find strong support for the ‘threat of revolution theory’. We also find some evidence that war triggered suffrage reform, whereas other theories of the extension of the franchise, including ‘modernization theory’, receive little support.

Suggested Citation

  • Toke Aidt & Peter S. Jensen, 2011. "Workers of the World, Unite! Franchise Extensions and the Threat of Revolution in Europe, 1820-1938," CESifo Working Paper Series 3417, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3417
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    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Economics versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy Advice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 173-192, Spring.
    2. Zissimos, Ben, 2017. "A theory of trade policy under dictatorship and democratization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 85-101.
    3. Anna Maria Koukal & Reiner Eichenberger, 2017. "Explaining a Paradox of Democracy: The Role of Institutions in Female Enfranchisement," CREMA Working Paper Series 2017-13, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    4. repec:eee:poleco:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:108-122 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2013. "Does inequality lead to civil wars? A global long-term study using anthropometric indicators (1816–1999)," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 56-79.
    6. Pantelis Kammas & Vassilis Sarantides, 2017. "Democratisation and tax structure: Greece versus Europe from a historical perspective," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 109, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    7. Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen, 2013. "Democratization and the size of government: evidence from the long 19th century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 511-542, December.
    8. Paul Maarek & Michael T. Borsch, 2014. "Recessions, Inequality, and Democratization," THEMA Working Papers 2014-19, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    9. Buchheim, Lukas & Ulbricht, Robert, 2014. "Dynamics of Political Systems," TSE Working Papers 14-464, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised May 2016.
    10. Degryse, Hans & Lambert, Thomas & Schwienbacher, Armin, 2013. "The Political Economy of Financial Systems: Evidence from Suffrage Reforms in the Last Two Centuries," CEPR Discussion Papers 9621, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Pantelis Kammas & Vassilis Sarantides, 2016. "Fiscal redistribution around elections when democracy is not “the only game in town”," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(3), pages 279-311, September.
    12. Aidt, T.S. & Jensen, P.S., 2012. "From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1221, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    13. Michael Dorsch & Paul Maarek, 2016. "Democratization and the conditional dynamics of income distribution," Working Papers hal-01350968, HAL.
    14. Frederik Toscani, 2013. "Why High Human Capital Makes Good Revolutionaries: The Role of the Middle Classes in Democratisation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1332, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    15. Dorsch, Michael T. & Maarek, Paul, 2015. "Inefficient predation and political transitions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 37-48.
    16. Luna Bellani & Heinrich Ursprung, 2016. "The Political Economy of Redistribution Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6189, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Gilli, Mario & Li, Yuan, 2015. "Coups, revolutions and efficient policies in autocracies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 109-124.
    18. Braunfels, Elias, 2014. "How do Political and Economic Institutions Affect Each Other?," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 19/2014, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
    19. repec:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10602-017-9241-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Nikolova, Elena & Nikolova, Milena, 2017. "Suffrage, labour markets and coalitions in colonial Virginia," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 108-122.
    21. Pierre Salmon, 2017. "Is democracy exportable?," Working Papers halshs-01516493, HAL.
    22. Buchheim, Lukas & Ulbricht, Robert, 2014. "Emergence and Persistence of Extreme Political Systems," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 461, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    the extension of the voting franchise; democracy; threat of revolution; suffrage;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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