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Do rights to resistance discipline the elites? An experiment on the threat of overthrow

Konstantin Chatziathanasiou (), Svenja Hippel () and Michael Kurschilgen ()
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Konstantin Chatziathanasiou: University of Münster
Svenja Hippel: Unversity of Würzburg
Michael Kurschilgen: Technical University of Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Munich Papers in Political Economy from TUM School of Governance at the Technical University of Munich

Abstract: The threat of overthrow stabilizes a constitution because it disciplines the elites. This is the main rationale behind rights to resistance. In this paper, we test this conjecture experimentally. We model a society in which players can produce wealth by solving a coordination problem. Coordination is facilitated through a pre-game status-ranking. Compliance with the status hierarchy yields an efficient yet inequitable payoff distribution, in which a player’s wealth is determined by her pre-game status. Between treatments, we vary (a) whether overthrows – which reset the status-ranking via collective disobedience – are possible or not, and (b) whether voluntary redistributive transfers – which high-status players can use to appease the low-status players – are available or not. In contrast to established thinking we find that, on average, the threat of overthrow does not have a stabilizing effect as high-status players fail to provide sufficient redistribution to prevent overthrows. However, if an overthrow brings generous players into high-status positions, groups stabilize and prosper. This suggests an alternative rationale for rights to resistance.

Keywords: Rights to resistance; civil resistance; constitutional stability; redistribution; coordination; battle of the sexes; experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 C92 D74 H23 P48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 37 pages
Date: 2020-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-exp
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