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Faculty of Economics

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Aidt, T. S., Winer, S. L. and Zhang, P.

Franchise extension and fiscal structure in the United Kingdom 1820-1913: A new test of the Redistribution Hypothesis


Vol. 16 pp. 547-574 (2022)

Abstract: The Redistribution Hypothesis predicts that franchise extension causes an increase in state-sponsored redistribution. We test this hypothesis by considering the relationship between franchise extension and selected aspects of fiscal structure at both central and local government levels in the United Kingdom from 1820 to 1913. We do so without imposing a priori restrictions on the direction of causality using a novel method for causal investigation of non-experimental data proposed by Hoover (2001). This method is based on tests for structural breaks in the conditional and marginal distributions of the franchise and fiscal structure time series preceded by a detailed historical narrative analysis. We do not find compelling evidence supporting the Redistribution Hypothesis.

Keywords: Franchise extension, redistribution, democratization, causality, structural breaks, central government, historical narrative

JEL Codes: D72, D78, H50, H72

Author links: Toke Aidt  

Publisher's Link:

Keynes Fund Project(s):
Political Representation, Market Failure and Public Policy: A Long-run Study of the United Kingdom (JHOA)  

Cambridge Working Paper in Economics Version of Paper: Franchise extension and fiscal structure in the United Kingdom 1820-1913: A new test of the Redistribution Hypothesis, Aidt, T., Winer, S., Zhang, P., (2020)

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