Why did the elites extend the suffrage? Democracy and the scope of government, with an application to Britain's "age of reform"

Alessandro Lizzeri*, Nicola Persico

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

243 Scopus citations

Abstract

A new rationale is presented for why an elite may want to expand the franchise even in the absence of threats to the established order. Expanding the franchise can turn politicians away from particularistic politics based on ad personam redistribution within the elite and foster competition based on programs with diffuse benefits. If these programs are valuable, a majority of the elite votes in favor of an extension of the franchise despite the absence of a threat from the disenfranchised. We argue that the evolution of public spending and of political competition in nineteenth century Britain is consistent with our model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-765
Number of pages59
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Volume119
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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