Andy Hanssen
Clemson U.



(Thursday, 22nd May 2014)

Title : The Building and Dynamic of Democratic Institutions

Download the presentation - 1.49 MB

Although the number of democracies around the world has increased dramatically over the last 150 years, the process of transition to democracy remains imperfectly understood.  Indeed, from a certain perspective, the mere fact of transition is potentially puzzling, because although it involves (by definition) a reduction in the power of elites, most democratic transitions have been accomplished with little violence.  In this workshop, we will review several prominent economic models of the democratic transition.  We will focus on models in which an enfranchised group expands rights to a disenfranchised group voluntarily, because the enfranchised group expects to be made better off.  We will examine how well these models explain the rise of democracy in democracy’s birthplace:  ancient Greece.  We will also examine factors that make democracies durable.  The ancient Greeks were very aware of the possible instability of democratic regimes, and engaged in remarkable efforts to design institutions that rendered their systems stable.  Throughout the workshop, we will explore implications for understanding democracy in the modern world.

Bibliographical references :

Must read reference : Fleck, Robert K., and F. Andrew Hanssen.  2006.  “The Origins of Democracy:  A Model with Application to Ancient Greece”, Journal of Law and Economics 49: 115-146


Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson.  2000.  “Why Did the West Extend the Franchise?  Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective,” 115 Quarterly Journal of Economics 1167-1199.

Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson.  2001.  “A Theory of Political Transitions,” 91 American Economic Review 938-963.

Fleck, Robert K., and F. Andrew Hanssen.  2009. “‘Rulers Ruled by Women:  An Economic Analysis of the Rise and Fall of Women’s Rights in Ancient Sparta”, Economics of Governance, 10: 221-245 (2009) 

Fleck, Robert K., and F. Andrew Hanssen.  2013.  “When Voice Fails:  Potential Exit as a Constraint on Government Quality”, International Review of Law and Economics 35:  26-41

Fleck, Robert K., and F. Andrew Hanssen.  2013.  “How Tyranny Paved the Way to Democracy: The Democratic Transition in Ancient Greece”, Journal of Law and Economics 56:  389-416

Robert K. Fleck and F. Andrew Hanssen.  2014.  “The Foundations of Wealth-Enhancing Democracy:  Aristotle, Lindahl, and Institutional Design in Ancient Greece”, working paper

Lipset, Seymour Martin.  1959.  “Some Social Requisites of Democracy:  Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” 53 American Journal of Political Science 69-105.

Lizzeri, Alessandro, and Nicola Persico.  2004.  “Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage?  Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain’s ‘Age of Reform’,” 119 Quarterly Journal of Economics 707-765.

North, Douglass C. and Barry R. Weingast.  1989.  "Constitutions and Commitment:  The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth Century England," 49 Journal of Economic History 803-832.

Selected additional readings:

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson.  2001.  “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development:  An Empirical Investigation,” 91 American Economic Review 1369-1401.

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson.  2002.  “Reversal of Fortune:  Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution,” 117 Quarterly Journal of Economics 1231-1294.

Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, James A. Robinson, and Pierre Yared. 2008. Income
and Democracy. American Economic Review 98:808–42.

Alesina, Alberto, and Dani Rodrik.  1994.  "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," 109 Quarterly Journal of Economics 465-490.

Barzel, Yoram. 2000. “Property Rights and the Evolution of the State.” 1  Economics of Governance 25-51.
Congleton, Roger F.  2011.  Perfecting Parliament:  Constitutional Reform, Liberalism, and the Rise of Western Democracy Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press

Jack, William, and Roger Lagunoff. 2006. Dynamic Enfranchisement. Journal of Public Economics 90:551–72.

Justman, Moshe, and Mark Gradstein. 1999. The Industrial Revolution, Political Transition, and the Subsequent Decline in Inequality in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Explorations
in Economic History 36:109–27.

Llavador, Humberto, and Robert J. Oxoby. 2005. Partisan Competition, Growth, and the Franchise. Quarterly Journal of Economics 120:1155–89.

McGuire, Martin C., and Mancur Olson. 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule:  The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," 34 Journal of Economic Literature 72-96.

Olson, Mancur.  1993.  “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development.”  87 The American Political Science Review 567-576.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, and Arvind Subramanian.  2013.  "Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria," Journal of African Economies, 22: 570-615.

Umbeck, John. 1981. “Might Makes Rights:  A Theory of the Foundation and Initial Distribution of Property Rights.” 19 Economic Inquiry  38-59.

Weingast, Barry R.  1997.  "The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law," 91 American Political Science Review 245-263.

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