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The Political Economics of Growth, Labor Control and Coercion: Evidence from a Suffrage Reform

Björn Tyrefors, Erik Lindgren () and Per Pettersson-Lidbom ()
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Erik Lindgren: Department of Economics, Stockholm University

No 1172, Working Paper Series from Research Institute of Industrial Economics

Abstract: In this paper, we analyze how a suffrage reform in 1862/63 that shifted the de jure distribution of political power from landowners to industrialists affected Sweden’s industrialization and economic and social development from the 1860s to the 1910s. Using a newly constructed, comprehensive historical data set of the universe of approximately 2,400 Swedish local governments, we document that the change in suffrage affected a very large number of development and social outcomes at the local level, such as labor coercion, factor price manipulation in the form of entry barriers including investments in local public goods (i.e., schooling) and transportation (i.e., local railways), the real wage structure, technology adoption in both agriculture and industry, labor productivity in both agriculture and industry, changes in the composition of employment and the structure of production, demographic transition, organized labor, and persistence in dysfunctional local political institutions. Our findings are consistent with the idea that political institutions are a key determinant of long-run development and growth. Specifically, our results suggest that politically powerful landowners can block economic development using labor coercion and factor price manipulation, i.e., using entry barriers and other distortionary policies.

Keywords: Economic development and growth; Political institutions; Technological change; Industrialization; Labor coercion; Labor-saving technologies; Persistence of extractive economic and political institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E22 E23 E24 E62 F15 H41 H52 H53 H70 J10 J21 J22 J23 J24 J31 J32 J41 J43 J47 N10 N33 N53 N63 N73 N93 O10 O14 O15 O18 O33 O40 O52 R10 R42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 75 pages
Date: 2017-06-21, Revised 2019-09-24
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gro, nep-his, nep-mac and nep-pol
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