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Collective Action and Representation in Autocracies: Evidence from Russia's Great Reforms

Paul Castañeda Dower, Evgeny Finkel, Scott Gehlbach and Steven Nafziger ()
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Paul Castañeda Dower: Florida International University,
Evgeny Finkel: George Washington University,
Scott Gehlbach: University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Paul Castañeda Dower ()

No 2016-08, Department of Economics Working Papers from Department of Economics, Williams College

Abstract: We explore the relationship between capacity for collective action and representation in autocracies with data from Imperial Russia. Our primary empirical exercise relates peasant representation in new institutions of local self-government to the frequency of peasant unrest in the decade prior to reform. To correct for measurement error in the unrest data and other sources of endogeneity, we exploit idiosyncratic variation in two determinants of peasant unrest: the historical incidence of serfdom and religious polarization. We find that peasants were granted less representation in districts with more frequent unrest in preceding years--a relationship consistent with the Acemoglu-Robinson model of political transitions and inconsistent with numerous other theories of institutional change. At the same time, we observe patterns of redistribution in subsequent years that are inconsistent with the commitment mechanism central to the Acemoglu-Robinson model. Building on these results, we discuss possible directions for future theoretical work.

Pages: 60 pages
Date: 2016-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cis, nep-his and nep-pol
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