Legislative Malapportionment and Institutional Persistence

27 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2010 Last revised: 4 Dec 2010

See all articles by Francisco A. Gallego

Francisco A. Gallego

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Miriam Bruhn

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 26, 2010

Abstract

This paper argues that legislative malapportionment, denoting a discrepancy between the share of legislative seats and the share of population held by electoral districts, serves as a tool for predemocratic elites to preserve their political power and economic interests after a transition to democracy. We claim that legislative malapportionment enhances the pre-democratic elite’s political influence by overrepresenting areas that are more likely to vote for parties aligned with the elite. This biased political representation survives in equilibrium as long as it helps democratic consolidation. We use data from Latin America to document empirically that malapportionment increases the probability of transitioning to a democracy. Moreover, our data show that overrepresented electoral districts are more likely to vote for parties close to pre-democracy ruling groups. We also find that overrepresented areas have lower levels of political competition and they receive more transfers per capita from the central government, both of which favor the persistence of power of pre-democracy elites.

Keywords: democracy, dictatorship, institutions, Latin America, persistence, political economy

JEL Classification: H1, N46, N10, P16, P48

Suggested Citation

Gallego, Francisco A. and Bruhn, Miriam and Onorato, Massimiliano Gaetano, Legislative Malapportionment and Institutional Persistence (October 26, 2010). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5467. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1698082 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1698082

Francisco A. Gallego (Contact Author)

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile ( email )

Casilla 76
Correo 17
Santiago
Chile

HOME PAGE: http://www.economia.puc.cl/fgallego

Miriam Bruhn

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Bologna
Italy

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