File(s) under permanent embargo

The shocking origins of political transitions: evidence from earthquakes

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2017, 00:00 authored by Md Habibur Rahman, Nejat AnbarciNejat Anbarci, Prasad BhattacharyaPrasad Bhattacharya, Mehmet UlubasogluMehmet Ulubasoglu
Do earthquakes trigger political transitions? Using a rich panel dataset of 160 countries observed over 1950-2007, we find that earthquake shocks, measured in terms of the effect of ground-motion amplitude on death toll, have two contradicting effects on political change. On the one hand, earthquakes drive transitions into democracy due to an affective shock, which we interpret to be the reaction of citizens by which they hold the incumbent government responsible for earthquake damages. On the other hand, earthquakes indirectly hasten transitions into a less democratic regime because they increase the income level contemporaneously, possibly due to short-term emergency response and recovery expenditures, and thus, raising the opportunity cost of contesting the incumbent government. Overall, we show that, while not leading to a full-fledged regime transition, earthquake shocks open a new democratic window of opportunity, but this window is narrowed by improved economic conditions.

History

Journal

Southern Economic Journal

Volume

83

Issue

3

Pagination

796 - 823

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

0038-4038

eISSN

2325-8012

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, Southern Economic Association