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The Role of Freedom, Growth and Religion in the Taste for Revolution

  • Robert MacCulloch

    (Princeton University)

  • Silvia Pezzini

    (London School of Economics)

Property rights, whose security is often threatened by civil conflict, are a necessary condition for the establishment of a market economy. Yet a fundamental and unresolved empirical question is whether the lack of political and civil freedoms is one of the root causes of greater insecurity. This paper takes a new approach to provide an answer by using micro-data on the revolutionary tastes of 106,170 people in 61 nations between 1981 and 1997. Controlling for country effects, year effects and endogeneity, the level of freedom has strong and robust negative effects on revolutionary support. A one standard deviation rise in freedom, equivalent to a shift from Argentina to the US, decreases the support for a revolt by 3 percentage points, or 38% of the standard deviation of the proportion of people who want one. Higher GDP growth rates can buy off part of the increase in revolutionary support when freedoms are constrained. There is also evidence that being religious reduces revolutionary tastes although the size of the effect varies with the extent of freedom and disappears entirely in non-free nations.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Law and Economics with number 0405002.

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Date of creation: 20 May 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0405002
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