The Political Economy of Liberal Democracy

41 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2015

See all articles by Sharun Mukand

Sharun Mukand

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2015

Abstract

We distinguish between three sets of rights – property rights, political rights, and civil rights – and provide a taxonomy of political regimes. The distinctive nature of liberal democracy is that it protects civil rights (equality before the law for minorities) in addition to the other two. Democratic transitions are typically the product of a settlement between the elite (who care mostly about property rights) and the majority (who care mostly about political rights). Such settlements rarely produce liberal democracy, as the minority has neither the resources nor the numbers to make a contribution at the bargaining table. We develop a formal model to sharpen the contrast between electoral and liberal democracies and highlight circumstances under which liberal democracy can emerge. We discuss informally the difference between social mobilizations sparked by industrialization and decolonization. Since the latter revolve around identity cleavages rather than class cleavages, they are less conducive to liberal politics.

Keywords: democratic transitions, liberal democracy

JEL Classification: P48

Suggested Citation

Mukand, Sharun and Rodrik, Dani, The Political Economy of Liberal Democracy (September 2015). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10808. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657164

Sharun Mukand (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9454 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rodrik/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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