Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

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Overview

What forces lead to democracy's creation? Why does it sometimes consolidate only to collapse at other times? Written by two of the foremost authorities on this subject in the world, this volume develops a framework for analyzing the creation and consolidation of democracy. It revolutionizes scholarship on the factors underlying government and popular movements toward democracy or dictatorship. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that different social groups prefer different political institutions because of the way they allocate political power and resources. Their book, the subject of a four-day seminar at Harvard's Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, was also the basis for the Walras-Bowley lecture at the joint meetings of the European Economic Association and Econometric Society in 2003 and is the winner of the John Bates Clark Medal. Daron Acemoglu is Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the 2005 John Bates Clark Medal awarded by the American Economic Association as the best economist working in the United States under age 40. He is the author of the forthcoming text Introduction to Modern Economic Growth. James A. Robinson is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is a Harvard Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Program on Institutions, Organizations, and Growth. He is coeditor with Jared Diamond of the forthcoming book Natural Experiments in History.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…there is much [here] to admire. True to their title, Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson offer a unified theory of both democracy and its opposite. According to two scholars cited in this book, even to look for a general theory of democratic reform requires great temerity. Happily, Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson have temerity in spades." - The Economist

"The book will be widely used in undergraduate and graduate courses in political economy. [It] will be appreciated by economists who are not satisfied with an argument until it reaches its apotheosis as a set of mathematical equations. But the less quantitative have much to glean from this rich book as well, for it clarifies what assumptions are required for its arguments to hold, and shows in high relief the contrasts with other standard works on democratization." - Frances Rosenbluth, Japanese Journal of Political Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521855266
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2005
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Daron Acemoglu is Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Program on Institutions, Organizations, and Growth. He received the 2005 John Bates Clark Medal awarded by the American Economic Association to the best economist working in the United States under age 40. He is the author of the textbook Introduction to Modern Economic Growth and coeditor of Econometrica and NBER Macroannual.

James A. Robinson is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and is a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Program on Institutions, Organizations, and Growth. He is coeditor with Jared Diamond of Natural Experiments in History (2009).

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Table of Contents

Part I. Questions and Answers; Section 1. Paths of Political Development: 1. Britain; 2. Argentina; 3. Singapore; 4. South Africa, 5. The agenda; Section 2. Our Argument: 1. Democracy vs. nondemocracy; 2. Building blocks of our approach; 3. Towards our basic story; 4. Our theory of democratization; 5. Democratic consolidation; 6. Determinants of democracy; 7. Political identities and the nature of conflict; 8. Democracy in a picture; 9. Overview of the book; Section 3. What Do We Know About Democracy?: 1. Measuring democracy; 2. Patterns of democracy; 3. Democracy, inequality and redistribution; 4. Crises and democracy; 5. Social unrest and democratization; 6. The literature; 7. Our contribution; Part II. Modelling Politics; Section 4. Democratic Politics: 1. Introduction; 2. Aggregating individual preferences; 3. Single-peaked preferences and the median voter theorem; 4. Our workhorse models; 5. Democracy and political equality; 6. Conclusion; Section 5. Nondemocratic Politics: 1. Introduction; 2. Power and constraints in nondemocratic politics; 3. Modeling preferences and constraints in nondemocracies; 4. Commitment problems; 5. A simple game of promises; 6. A dynamic model; 7. Incentive compatible promises; 8. Conclusion; Part III. The Creation and Consolidation of Democracy; Section 6. Democratization: 1. Introduction; 2. The role of political institutions; 3. Preferences over political institutions; 4. Political power and institutions; 5. A 'static' model of democratization; 6. Democratization or repression?; 7. A dynamic model of democratization; 8. Subgame perfect equilibria; 9. Alternative political identities; 10. Targeted transfers; 11. Power of the elite in democracy; 12. Ideological preferences over regimes; 13. Democratization in pictures; 14. Equilibrium revolutions; 15. Conclusion; Section 7. Coups and Consolidation: 1. Introduction; 2. Incentives for coups; 3. A static model of coups; 4. A dynamic model of the creation and consolidation of democracy; 5. Alternative political identities; 6. Targeted transfers; 7. Power in democracy and coups; 8. Consolidation in a picture; 9. Defensive coups; 10. Conclusion; Part IV. Putting the Models to Work; Section 8. The Role of the Middle Class: 1. Introduction; 2. The three-class model; 3. Emergence of partial democracy; 4. From partial to full democracy; 5. Repression: the middle class as a buffer; 6. Repression: soft-liners vs. hard-liners; 7. The role of the middle class in consolidating democracy; 8. Conclusion; Section 9. Economic Structure and Democracy: 1. Introduction; 2. Economic structure and income distribution; 3. Political conflict; 4. Capital, land and the transition to democracy; 5. Financial integration; 6. Increased political integration; 7. Alternative assumptions about the nature of international trade. 8. Conclusion; Part V. Conclusion and The Future of Democracy; Section 10. Conclusion and the Future of Democracy: 1. Paths of political development revisited; 2. Extension and areas for future research; 3. The future of democracy; Part VI. Appendix; Section 11. Appendix to Section 4: The Distribution of Power in Democracy: 1. Introduction; 2. Probabilistic voting models; 3. Lobbying; 4. Partisan politics and political capture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2006

    Great book and much needed theory!

    Finally, a formal theory of the process of democratization! Although the underlying assumption of the theory assumes that authoritarians use authority to maintain wealth (which is not always the case) the theory is provocative and insightful. Moreover, it malleable to additional questions and can serve as a theoretic foundation for countless other projects.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 18, 2009

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