What Makes a Revolution?

London School of Economics Working Paper No. 2001/02

34 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2001

See all articles by Robert MacCulloch

Robert MacCulloch

Imperial College London - Tanaka Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2001


Although property rights are the cornerstone of capitalist economies, throughout history existing claims have been frequently overturned and redefined by revolution. A fundamental question for economists is what makes revolutions more likely to occur. A large literature has found contradictory evidence for the effect of income and income inequality on revolt, possibly due to omitted variable bias. The primary innovation of the paper is to tackle this problem by introducing a new panel data set derived from surveys of revolutionary support across one-quarter of a million randomly sampled individuals. This allows one to control for unobserved fixed effects. The regressions are based on a choice-theoretic model of revolt. After controlling for personal characteristics, country and year fixed effects, more people are found to favor revolt when inequality is high and their net incomes are low. A policy that decreases inequality equivalent to a shift from the US to Luxembourg is predicted to decrease support for revolt by 7.7 percentage points. A decrease in net income of $US 3,510 (in 1985 constant dollars) increases revolutionary support by the same amount. The results indicate that 'going for growth', or implementing policies that reduce inequality, can buy nations out of revolt.

Keywords: Property Rights, Revolts, Income Inequality

JEL Classification: D23, D31, D74

Suggested Citation

MacCulloch, Robert, What Makes a Revolution? (February 2001). London School of Economics Working Paper No. 2001/02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=265434 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.265434

Robert MacCulloch (Contact Author)

Imperial College London - Tanaka Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics