"The Democratization of Political Selection"


Democracy requires universal suffrage, but it also requires universal access to political office. This paper describes a mechanism commonly used by traditional economic elites to extend the suffrage without redistributing political power, namely, candidate eligibility requirements. These often take the form of minimum property or wealth requirements for those who want to access political office. We provide a citizen-candidate model that relates suffrage and eligibility requirements with implemented policies, showing that the extension of the suffrage is inconsequential in regimes with strict economic qualifications for candidates. We evaluate the effects of removing property qualifications for both suffrage and office in the sample of the 13 original colonies of the United States of America during the period 1776-1900. We find that reforms to universal suffrage increased turnout but did not affect government spending or the composition of the political class. The elimination of economic qualifications for political office on the other hand, increased government spending, enriched political competition and increased the class heterogeneity of the legislature.

Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Departamento de Economía, Universidad Diego Portales
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 13:00 to 14:00
Room 23, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Chile ( Domeyko 2338, second floor, Santiago)