NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Jeanet Bentzen

University of Copenhagen
Department of Economics
Øster Farimagsgade 5
1353 København K, Denmark

E-Mail: jeanet.bentzen@econ.ku.dk
Institutional Affiliation: University of Copenhagen

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2015The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy
with Jacob Gerner Hariri, James A. Robinson: w21193
We document that rules for leadership succession in ethnic societies that antedate the modern state predict contemporary political regimes; leadership selection by election in indigenous societies is associated with contemporary representative democracy. The basic association, however, is conditioned on the relative strength of the indigenous groups within a country; stronger groups seem to have been able to shape national regime trajectories, weaker groups do not. This finding extends and qualifies a substantive qualitative literature, which has found in local democratic institutions of medieval Europe a positive impulse towards the development of representative democracy. It shows that contemporary regimes are shaped not only by colonial history and European influence; indigenous history...
 
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