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Why did (not) the East Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Intra-Elite Conflict and Risk Sharing

  • Sayantan Ghosal
  • Eugenio Proto

The process of enfranchisement is studied in a model of intra-elite conflict over the sharing of social surplus. The relative bargaining power of each elite, function of the surplus each elite is able to appropriate if the bargaining breaks down, is uncertain ex-ante. Accordingly, two competing elites can decide to enfranchise a weak but numerically large non-elite group in order to insure against future imbalances in relative bargaining power. The enfranchisement decision requires the non-elite group to be relatively weak and imperfectly informed about intra-elite bargaining power. Our results are robust to public good provision following enfranchisement when there is preference heterogeneity over the location of the public good across the different elites. A comparative analysis of the Indian Democracy is provided.

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Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c011_032.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c011_032
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Humberto Llavador & Robert Oxoby, 2003. "Partisan competition, growth and the franchise," Economics Working Papers 730, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2004.
  3. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
  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, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
  5. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2003. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Fleck, Robert K & Hanssen, F Andrew, 2006. "The Origins of Democracy: A Model with Application to Ancient Greece," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 115-46, April.
  8. John P. Conley & Akram Temimi, 2001. "Endogenous Enfranchisement When Groups' Preferences Conflict," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 79-102, February.
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