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Legislative Malapportionment and institutional persistence

Author

Listed:
  • Miriam Bruhn
  • Francisco Gallego

    () (Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.)

  • Massimiliano Onorato

Abstract

This paper argues that legislative malapportionment, denoting a discrepancy between the share of legislative seats and the share of population held by electoral districts, serves as a tool for predemocratic elites to preserve their political power and economic interests after a transition to democracy. We claim that legislative malapportionment enhances the pre-democratic elite's political influence by overrepresenting areas that are more likely to vote for parties aligned with the elite. This biased political representation survives in equilibrium as long as it helps democratic consolidation. We use data from Latin America to document empirically that malapportionment increases the probability of transitioning to a democracy. Moreover, our data show that overrepresented electoral districts are more likely to vote for parties close to pre-democracy ruling groups. We also find that overrepresented areas have lower levels of political competition and they receive more transfers per capita from the central government, both of which favor the persistence of power of pre-democracy elites.

Suggested Citation

  • Miriam Bruhn & Francisco Gallego & Massimiliano Onorato, 2010. "Legislative Malapportionment and institutional persistence," Documentos de Trabajo 381, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  • Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:381
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Galiani & Iván Torre & Gustavo Torrens, 2016. "Fiscal Federalism and Legislative Malapportionment: Causal Evidence from Independent but Related Natural Experiments," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(1), pages 133-159, March.
    2. Baland, Jean-Marie & Robinson, James A, 2011. "The Political Value of Land: Democratization and Land Prices in Chile," CEPR Discussion Papers 8296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Democracy; dictatorship; institutions; Latin America; persistence; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • N46 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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