Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1896045
 
 

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Destined for Democracy? Labour Markets and Political Change in Colonial British America


Elena Nikolova


European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - Office of the Chief Economist

July 27, 2011


Abstract:     
This paper proposes a new explanation for the emergence of democratic institutions: elites may extend the right to vote to the masses in order to attract migrant workers. I argue that representative assemblies serve as a commitment device for any promises made to labourers by those in power, and test the argument on a new political and economic data set from the thirteen British American colonies. The results suggest that colonies that relied on white migrant labour, rather than slaves, had better representative institutions. These findings are not driven by alternative factors identified in the literature, such as inequality or initial conditions, and survive a battery of validity checks.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 94

Keywords: democratization, institutions, colonialism

JEL Classification: D72, D78, N41

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Date posted: July 27, 2011 ; Last revised: November 18, 2014

Suggested Citation

Nikolova, Elena, Destined for Democracy? Labour Markets and Political Change in Colonial British America (July 27, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1896045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1896045

Contact Information

Elena Nikolova (Contact Author)
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - Office of the Chief Economist ( email )
One Exchange Square
London EC2A 2JN
United Kingdom
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