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

Forthcoming, British Journal of Political Science

94 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2011 Last revised: 12 May 2015

Elena Nikolova

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); IOS Regensburg

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: democratization, institutions, colonialism

JEL Classification: D72, D78, N41

Suggested Citation

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

Elena Nikolova (Contact Author)

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) ( email )

Zvolensk√° 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

IOS Regensburg ( email )

Landshuter Str. 4
Regensburg, 93047
Germany

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