Working Paper No. 1172

The Political Economics of Growth, Labor Control and Coercion: Evidence from a Suffrage Reform

Published: June 20, 2017, revised September 24, 2019Pages: 75Keywords: Economic development and growth; Political institutions; Technological change; Industrialization; Labor coercion; Labor-saving technologies; Persistence of extractive economic and political institutionsJEL-codes: E22; E23; E24; E62; F15; H41; H52; H53; H70; J10; J21; J22; J23; J24; J31; J32; J41; J43; J47; N10; N33; N53; N63; N73; N93; O10; O14; O15; O18; O33; O40; O52; R10; R42

The Political Economics of Growth, Labor Control and Coercion: Evidence from a Suffrage Reform Erik Lindgren, Per Pettersson-Lidbom and Björn Tyrefors

In this paper, we analyze how a suffrage reform in 1862/63 that shifted the de jure distribution of political power from landowners to industrialists affected Sweden’s industrialization and economic and social development from the 1860s to the 1910s.

Using a newly constructed, comprehensive historical data set of the universe of approximately 2,400 Swedish local governments, we document that the change in suffrage affected a very large number of development and social outcomes at the local level, such as labor coercion, factor price manipulation in the form of entry barriers including investments in local public goods (i.e., schooling) and transportation (i.e., local railways), the real wage structure, technology adoption in both agriculture and industry, labor productivity in both agriculture and industry, changes in the composition of employment and the structure of production, demographic transition, organized labor, and persistence in dysfunctional local political institutions.

Our findings are consistent with the idea that political institutions are a key determinant of long-run development and growth. Specifically, our results suggest that politically powerful landowners can block economic development using labor coercion and factor price manipulation, i.e., using entry barriers and other distortionary policies.​

Björn Tyrefors


Ph: +46 8 665 4521
Mob: +46 704678003

Per Pettersson-Lidbom


Ph: +46 8 16 12 39

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 |