June 13, 2013

Legal Reform and Political Economy

Evgeny Finkel, George Washington University Department of Political Science, Scott Gehlbach, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Center for the Study of Institutions and Development, and Tricia D. Olsen, have published  Business Ethics & Legal Studies, University of Wisconsin, have published Does Reform Prevent Rebellion? Evidence from Russia's Emancipation of the Serfs. Here is the abstract.

Contemporary models of political economy suggest that unrest and revolution can be prevented by reforms that target excluded groups, but little is known about the actual effect of such reforms on social stability. We explore the impact of reform on rebellion with a new dataset on peasant disturbances in nineteenth-century Russia. Using a difference-in-differences design that exploits the timing of various peasant reforms, we document a large increase in disturbances among former serfs following the Emancipation Reform of 1861, a development completely counter to reformers' intent. Drawing on a simple global game that illustrates the various mechanisms by which reform might affect rebellion, we trace this outcome to elite divisions and limited state capacity, two political constraints that together contributed to a reform that favored the gentry in its design and was captured the nobility in its implementation.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

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