American Economic Review: Vol. 98 No. 1 (March 2008)


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Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions

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Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson. 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions." American Economic Review, 98(1): 267-93.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.1.267


We construct a model to study the implications of changes in political institutions for economic institutions. A change in political institutions alters the distribution of de jure political power, but creates incentives for investments in de facto political power to partially or even fully offset change in de jure power. The model can imply a pattern of captured democracy, whereby a democratic regime may survive but choose economic institutions favoring an elite. The model provides conditions under which economic or policy outcomes will be invariant to changes in political institutions, and economic institutions themselves will persist over time. (JEL D02, D72)

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Acemoglu, Daron (MIT)
Robinson, James A. (Harvard U)

JEL Classifications

D02: Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations
D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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