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The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy

Author

Listed:
  • Jeanet Bentzen

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University.)

  • Jacob Gerner Hariri

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

  • James A. Robinson

    (Department of Government, Harvard University)

Abstract

We document that rules for leadership succession in ethnic societies that antedate the modern state predict contemporary political regimes; leadership selection by election in indigenous societies is associated with contemporary representative democracy. The basic association, however, is conditioned on the relative strength of the indigenous groups within a country; stronger groups seem to have been able to shape national regime trajectories, weaker groups do not. This finding extends and qualifies a substantive qualitative literature, which has found in local democratic institutions of medieval Europe a positive impulse towards the development of representative democracy. It shows that contemporary regimes are shaped not only by colonial history and European in uence; indigenous history also matters. For practitioners, our findings suggest that external reformers' capacity for regimebuilding should not be exaggerated.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeanet Bentzen & Jacob Gerner Hariri & James A. Robinson, 2014. "The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy," Discussion Papers 14-30, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1430
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:jeurec:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:1-53. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2017. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," NBER Working Papers 24088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2017. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Working Papers 4, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute.
    4. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen & Nicolai Kaarsen & Asger Moll Wingender, 2017. "Irrigation and Autocracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 1-53.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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