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Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Hanover D & E
Association for Comparative Economic Studies & American Economic Association
The Political Economy of Institutional Change
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
- Chair: Richard van Weelden, University of Pittsburgh
Protest Puzzles: Tullock's Paradox, Hong Kong Experiment, and\\ the Strength of Weak States
AbstractTullock's (1971) Paradox of Revolution uses an Olsonian logic to conclude that revolutions should not happen in large societies. Cantoni et al.'s (2018) Hong Kong Experiment shows that, in sharp contrast to the literature that models protest as a coordination problem, actions can be strategic substitutes. We develop a model to address these standing puzzles, and investigate its empirical implications. We show that when the movement's goal is modest, free-riding concerns dominate the citizens' interactions, making their actions strategic substitutes. By contrast, when the movement's goal is to topple the regime, coordination concerns dominate, and actions become strategic complements. Moreover, with natural other-regarding preferences, some citizens participate in costly revolt even in large societies. A new empirical implication of the model is that as a regime grows stronger in the sense that a larger fraction of citizens is needed to overthrow it, the likelihood of regime change may rise.
The Allocation of Political Power when Power Corrupts
AbstractEffective governance requires that leaders possess real power. However, this same power can be used today to shape how such power is allocated tomorrow. I develop a simple dynamic model of competition for political power among various groups in order to better understand the process of how political power is allocated in equilibrium—e.g. is it dictated by the current incumbent, fought over by competing factions, or bestowed by citizens? The analysis offers an account of (i) how citizens are able to command the allocation of political power despite possessing no direct threat to a powerful leadership, of (ii) the popular origins of loathed autocrats and their associated repression, and of (iii) the important role of political culture—e.g. whether citizens’ support for a leader hinges on the conditions under which they assumed or retained power, whether they engage in repression, etc.
The Persistent Power of the Street
AbstractWhat mobilizes individuals to participate in political movements? In this paper we test whether participation in a single political protest increases subsequent protest attendance. We also aim to uncover the mechanisms underlying persistent political engagement, considering changes in individuals' political beliefs, preferences, and changes to their social network. To identify a causal effect of past protest participation, we randomly "nudge" Hong Kong university students on the margin of attending an anti-authoritarian protest into participation. To identify the effects of social networks, we cross-randomize the intensity of this treatment across major_X_cohort cells to generate exogenous variation in protest activity in an individual's social network. We find that experimentally-induced protest attendance is associated with very small changes in beliefs and preferences, both immediately after the protest and a year later. However, experimentally-induced past protest participation is significantly associated with political behavior one year later, with persistent engagement in the political movement greatest among individuals in the experimental cells with highest treatment intensity. Direct questions about motives for turnout confirm that the social utility of protests increased among the persistently politically engaged. These results highlight the path-dependence of political movements and the important role of social interactions in shaping political behavior.
University of Chicago
University of California-Berkeley
Pompeu Fabra University and New Economic School
University of Pittsburgh
- P5 - Comparative Economic Systems
- O1 - Economic Development