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Public Opinion and the Dynamics of Reform


  • Sanjay Jain
  • Sharun W. Mukand


Why do economic reforms that are proceeding successfully often run aground? In this paper we show that there might arise circumstances where the initial success of reform might result in it running into a political impasse. We suggest that the key might lie in the e?ect that the reform process has on the balance of political power. In particular, if initially successful reforms change the balance of political power in such a way as to make future redistribution less likely, then public opinion may turn against reform. Thus, in some sense, an initially successful reform may well end up sowing the seeds of its own destruction.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2004. "Public Opinion and the Dynamics of Reform," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0408, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0408

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dewatripont, Mathias & Roland, Gerard, 1995. "The Design of Reform Packages under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1207-1223, December.
    2. Bernd Hayo, 2001. "On Democratization and Economic Conditions in Eastern Europe," Development and Comp Systems 0106001, EconWPA.
    3. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    4. Mariano Tommasi & Andres Velasco, 1996. "Where are we in the political economy of reform?," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 187-238.
    5. Dewatripont, M & Roland, G, 1992. "The Virtues of Gradualism and Legitimacy in the Transition to a Market Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(411), pages 291-300, March.
    6. Fidrmuc, Jan, 2000. "Political support for reforms: Economics of voting in transition countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(8), pages 1491-1513, August.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
    8. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Inefficient Redistribution," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(03), pages 649-661, September.
    9. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A., 2006. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 100(01), pages 115-131, February.
    10. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
    11. Hayo, Bernd, 2004. "Public support for creating a market economy in Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 720-744, December.
    12. Werner, Alejandro M., 1999. "Building consensus for stabilizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 319-336, August.
    13. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
    14. Cesar Martinelli & Mariano Tommasi, 1993. "Sequencing of Economic Reforms in the Presence of Political Constraints," UCLA Economics Working Papers 701, UCLA Department of Economics.
    15. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-156, March.
    16. Shang-Jin Wei, 1997. "Gradualism versus Big Bang: Speed and Sustainability of Reforms," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1234-1247, November.
    17. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-1155, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Learning about reform: Time-varying support for structural adjustment," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 192-206, March.
    2. Francesco Passarelli, 2011. "Risky Political Changes: Rational Choice vs Prospect Theory," ISLA Working Papers 39, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    3. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.

    More about this item


    Political Economy; Economic Reform; Public Opinion; Redistribution; Compensation;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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