Public Choice

, Volume 150, Issue 3–4, pp 561–578 | Cite as

Why is there no revolution in North Korea?

The political economy of revolution revisited
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Credible commitments Dictatorship Political economy Redistribution 

JEL Classification

D72 D74 O15 P16 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2000a). Why did the west extend the franchise? Democracy, inequality, and growth in historical perspective. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 1167–1199. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2000b). Inequality, growth and development. Democratization or repression? European Economic Review, 44, 683–693. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2001a). A theory of political transitions. American Economic Review, 91, 938–963. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2001b). The colonial origins of comparative development: An empirical investigation. American Economic Review, 91, 1369–1401. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2002). The political economy of the Kuznets curve. Review of Development Economics, 6, 183–203. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2003). Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics. Journal of Comparative Economics, 31, 620–652. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2006). Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  8. Berman, E. (2003). Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish underground: An economist’s view of radical religious militias (NBER working paper #10004). Google Scholar
  9. Berman, E., & Laitin, D. D. (2008). Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model. Journal of Public Economics, 92, 1942–1967. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Besley, T., & Kudamatsu, M. (2008). Making autocracy work. In E. Helpman (Ed.), Institutions and economic performance. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  11. Bienen, H., & van de Walle, N. (1989). Time and power in Africa. American Political Science Review, 83, 19–34. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bloch, P. C. (1986). The politico-economic behavior of authoritarian governments. Public Choice, 51, 117–128. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Buchanan, A. (1979). Revolutionary motivation and rationality. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 9, 59–82. Google Scholar
  14. Bueno de Mesquita, B. D., Morrow, J. D., Siverson, R. M., & Smith, A. (2003). The logic of political survival. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  15. Caplan, B. (2008). The myth of the rational voter. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  16. Congleton, R. D. (forthcoming). Perfecting parliament. Liberalism, constitutional reform and the rise of western democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  17. Fearon, J. A., & Laitin, D. D. (2003). Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war. American Political Science Review, 97, 75–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fest, J. (1996). Plotting Hitler’s death. The story of German resistance. New York: Henry Holt & Company. Google Scholar
  19. Grossman, H. I. (1991). A general equilibrium model of insurrections. American Economic Review, 81, 912–921. Google Scholar
  20. Grossman, H. I. (1994). Production, appropriation, and land reform. American Economic Review, 84, 705–712. Google Scholar
  21. Gurr, T. (1970). Why men rebel. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  22. Hardin, R. (1997). One for all. The logic of group conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  23. Kuran, T. (1989). Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution. Public Choice, 61, 41–74. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kurrild-Klitgaard, P. (1997). Rational choice, collective action and the paradox of rebellion. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Political Studies Press. Google Scholar
  25. Kurrild-Klitgaard, P. (2004). The paradox of rebellion. In C. K. Rowley & F. Schneider (Eds.), The encyclopedia of public choice (pp. 403–406). Kluwer: Dordrecht. Google Scholar
  26. Lichbach, M. I. (1995). The rebel’s dilemma. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
  27. McGuire, M. C., & Olson, M. (1996). The economics of autocracy and majority rule. Journal of Economic Literature, 34, 72–96. Google Scholar
  28. Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  29. Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. A fairy story. London: Secker and Warburg. Google Scholar
  30. Popper, K. R. (1945). The open society and its enemies (Vol. 2). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Google Scholar
  31. Roemer, J. E. (1985). Rationalizing revolutionary ideology. Econometrica, 53, 85–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tullock, G. (2005). The social dilemma. The selected works of Gordon Tullock (Vol. 8). Indianapolis: The Liberty Fund. Google Scholar
  33. Usher, D. (1981). The economic prerequisite to democracy. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
  34. Weingast, B. (2006). Designing constitutional stability. In R. D. Congleton & B. Swedenborg (Eds.), Democratic constitutional design and public policy: analysis and evidence. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  35. Wintrobe, R. (1998). The political economy of dictatorship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIW Center for Interdisciplinary EconomicsUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

Personalised recommendations