Workers of the World, Unite! Franchise Extensions and the Threat of Revolution in Europe, 1820-1938

51 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2011

See all articles by Toke Skovsgaard Aidt

Toke Skovsgaard Aidt

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics

Peter S. Jensen

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics

Date Written: April 27, 2011

Abstract

This paper tests the hypothesis that the extension of the voting franchise was caused by the threat of revolution, as suggested by Acemoglu and Robinson [Quarterly Journal of Economics 115, 1167-1199, 2000]. We approximate the threat of revolution in a given country by revolutionary events happening in neighboring countries. We investigate the relationship between this new measure of the threat of revolution and measures of suffrage reform in two samples of European countries covering the period from 1820 to 1938. We find strong support for the ‘threat of revolution theory’. We also find some evidence that war triggered suffrage reform, whereas other theories of the extension of the franchise, including ‘modernization theory’, receive little support.

Keywords: the extension of the voting franchise, democracy, threat of revolution, suffrage

JEL Classification: D700, P160

Suggested Citation

Aidt, Toke Skovsgaard and Jensen, Peter S., Workers of the World, Unite! Franchise Extensions and the Threat of Revolution in Europe, 1820-1938 (April 27, 2011). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 3417, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1824179

Toke Skovsgaard Aidt (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics ( email )

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Peter S. Jensen

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

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DK-5230 Odense M, 5230
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.sam.sdu.dk/staff/psj

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