IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World

  • Stanley L. Engerman
  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Most analysis of how the distribution of political power affects the patterns of growth has been confined to the late-twentieth century. One problem associated with a focus on the modern record is that processes that take place over the long run are not examined. We may all agree that institutions concerned with the distribution of political power have an impact on growth, but our interpretation of the relationship will vary with our understanding of where institutions come from: to what degree are institutions exogenous, and to what degree are they endogenous. This paper contributes to our knowledge of where institutions have come from by examining how the rules governing the extension of suffrage, a key measure of the distribution of political influence, evolved over time within the United States and across the societies of the Americas. We have previously argued that there was enormous variation in the initial extent of inequality across the New World colonial societies established by the Europeans because of differences in their factor endowments present early in their histories. Moreover, these initial differences in inequality may have persisted over time if they affected the ability of elites to obtain disproportionate political leverage, and to shape legal frameworks and state policies to advantage themselves relative to others in terms of access to economic and other opportunities. In this paper, we show that the early patterns of the extension of the franchise, the proportions of the respective populations voting, and other aspects of the conduct of elections are indeed generally consistent with the notion that the extent of initial inequality and population heterogeneity was associated across societies -- even within the United States -- with the nature of the political institutions that evolved. Specifically, where there was greater inequality, the proportion of the population that had the right to vote was generally lower, and the timing of the extensions of this right from elite groups to a broad population generally later, than in areas where there was relative homogeneity in the population.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8512.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8512.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Engerman, Stanely L. and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. "The Evolution Of Suffrage Institutions In The New World," Journal of Economic History, 2005, v65(4,Dec), 891-921.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8512
Note: DAE EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1993. "Education, democracy and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 399-407, December.
  2. William Newell, 1986. "Inheritance on the Maturing Frontier: Butler County, Ohio, 1803-1865," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 261-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  4. Greenwood, J., 1996. "The Third Industrial Revolution," RCER Working Papers 435, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. David W. Galenson & Clayne L. Pope, 1989. "Economic and Geographic Mobility on the Farming Frontier: Evidence from Appanoose County, Iowa 1850-1870," NBER Historical Working Papers 0004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  9. Justman, Moshe & Gradstein, Mark, 1999. "The Industrial Revolution, Political Transition, and the Subsequent Decline in Inequality in 19th-Century Britain," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 109-127, April.
  10. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  11. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8512. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.