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Steam democracy up! Industrialization-led opposition in Napoleonic plebiscites

Jean Lacroix

ULB Institutional Repository from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: Which dimension of economic development spurred support to democracy? This study focuses on industrialization as the dimension triggering the process of political "modernization". It uses a new dataset on Napoleonic plebiscites under the second French Empire (1852-1870). The results in those plebiscites provide a detailed cross-départements (French main administrative units) measure of opposition to autocracy. This study uses the variations in the thriving French modernization to disentangle the effect of industrialization on the vote from the one of other dimensions of economic development. Doubling industrial employment in the Puy-de-Dôme département (median of the distribution) would have decreased support to autocracy by 2.5-5.0 percentage points. An IV strategy using distance to the first city having adopted steam engines, access to coal and waterpower as instruments suggests causality. The baseline results are robust to controlling for other explanations of the vote and to using alternative specifications and estimation methods.

Date: 2018-05
Note: SCOPUS: re.j
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Published in: European review of economic history (2018) v.22 n° 2,p.135-160

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Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/276937