Public Choice

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 561–578

Why is there no revolution in North Korea?

The political economy of revolution revisited

DOI: 10.1007/s11127-010-9716-4

Cite this article as:
Apolte, T. Public Choice (2012) 150: 561. doi:10.1007/s11127-010-9716-4


The paper critically assesses the Acemoglu–Robinson approach to revolutions, as it is focused on inequality of wealth or income rather than on collective-action problems. We show that income inequality is not a sufficient and not even a necessary condition for a revolution to occur. Rather, a necessary condition for a revolution is that any subpopulation can expect net benefits from it, for which inequality is not a precondition. As a result, a certain structure of commitment devices or their absence rather than inequality is crucial for explaining why revolutions sometimes occur and sometimes not.


Credible commitmentsDictatorshipPolitical economyRedistribution

JEL Classification


Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIW Center for Interdisciplinary EconomicsUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany