The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-Class Franchise

82 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Sascha O. Becker

Sascha O. Becker

Monash University - Department of Economics; University of Warwick

Erik Hornung

University of Cologne - Center for Macroeconomic Research (CMR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: 2019

Abstract

Did the Prussian three-class franchise, which politically over-represented the economic elite, affect policy-making? Combining MP-level political orientation, derived from all roll call votes in the Prussian parliament (1867-1903), with constituency characteristics, we analyze how local vote inequality, determined by tax payments, affected policymaking during Prussia's period of rapid industrialization. Contrary to the predominant view that the franchise system produced a conservative parliament, higher vote inequality is associated with more liberal voting, especially in regions with large-scale industry. We argue that industrialists preferred self-serving liberal policies and were able to coordinate on suitable MPs when vote inequality was high.

Keywords: inequality, political economy, three-class franchise, elites, Prussia

JEL Classification: D720, N430, N930, P260

Suggested Citation

Becker, Sascha O. and Hornung, Erik, The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-Class Franchise (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7801, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3467934

Sascha O. Becker (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3
Australia

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Erik Hornung

University of Cologne - Center for Macroeconomic Research (CMR) ( email )

Cologne
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Munich
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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