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What makes a revolution?

  • MacCulloch, Robert

A fundamental requirement of market economies is the security of ownership claims to property. Yet history is littered with cases of challenges to these claims. A large literature has found contradictory evidence for the effect of income and income inequality on revolt, possibly due to omitted variable bias. The primary innovation of the paper is to tackle this problem in two ways. First, it introduces a new panel data set derived from surveys of revolutionary support across one-quarter of a million randomly sampled individuals. This allows one to control for unobserved fixed effects. Second, the estimated regressions are based on a choice-theoretic model of revolt that also helps us to choose an instrument set. After controlling for personal characteristics, country and year fixed effects, more people are found to favor revolt when inequality is high and their net incomes are low. An increase in inequality equivalent to a shift from Belgium to the US is predicted to increase support for revolt by 6.3 percentage points. An increase in net income of $US 3330 (in 1985 constant dollars) decreases revolutionary support by the same amount. The results indicate that ‘going for growth’ can buy a nation out of revolt.

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Paper provided by ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn in its series ZEI Working Papers with number B 24-1999.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeiwps:b241999
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