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Suffrage, labour markets and coalitions in colonial Virginia

Nikolova, E; Nikolova, M; (2017) Suffrage, labour markets and coalitions in colonial Virginia. European Journal of Political Economy , 49 pp. 108-122. 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.01.002. Green open access

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We study Virginia's suffrage from the early-17th century until the American Revolution using an analytical narrative and econometric analysis of unique data on franchise restrictions. First, we hold that suffrage changes reflected labour market dynamics. Indeed, Virginia's liberal institutions initially served to attract indentured servants from England who were needed in the labour-intensive tobacco farming but deteriorated once worker demand subsided and planters replaced white workers with slaves. Second, we argue that Virginia's suffrage was also the result of political bargaining influenced by shifting societal coalitions. We show that new politically influential coalitions of freemen and then of small and large slave-holding farmers emerged in the second half of the 17th and early-18th centuries, respectively. These coalitions were instrumental in reversing the earlier democratic institution\s. Our main contribution stems from integrating the labour markets and bargaining/coalitions arguments, thus proving a novel theoretical and empirical explanation for institutional change.

Type: Article
Title: Suffrage, labour markets and coalitions in colonial Virginia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.01.002
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.01.002
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Democracy; Suffrage; Colonialism; Bargaining; Coalitions; Virginia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1573630
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