Political Model of Social Evolution

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011

5 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2012

See all articles by Daron Acemoglu

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: September 22, 2011

Abstract

Almost all democratic societies evolved socially and politically out of authoritarian and nondemocratic regimes. These changes not only altered the allocation of economic resources in society but also the structure of political power. In this paper, we develop a framework for studying the dynamics of political and social change. The society consists of agents that care about current and future social arrangements and economic allocations; allocation of political power determines who has the capacity to implement changes in economic allocations and future allocations of power. The set of available social rules and allocations at any point in time is stochastic. We show that political and social change may happen without any stochastic shocks or as a result of a shock destabilizing an otherwise stable social arrangement. Crucially, the process of social change is contingent (and history-dependent): the timing and sequence of stochastic events determine the long-run equilibrium social arrangements. For example, the extent of democratization may depend on how early uncertainty about the set of feasible reforms in the future is resolved.

Keywords: history dependence, political equilibrium

JEL Classification: D71, D74, C71

Suggested Citation

Acemoglu, Daron and Egorov, Georgy and Sonin, Konstantin, Political Model of Social Evolution (September 22, 2011). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2165045

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-380b
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617-253-1927 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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