We present an argument for changes in the franchise in which an elite split along economic interests use the suffrage to influence implemented policies. Through the influence of these policies on the character of industrialization, we analyze the effects of franchise changes on economic growth. We identify in the social structure of society an explanation for the connection between enfranchisement and growth: When (1) there exist an economic conflict among the elite, (2) landed classes are not politically strong, and (3) there exists a critical mass of industrial workers, we observe both growth and democratization. The lack of conditions (1) or (2) resolves in stagnant autocracies while the absence of condition (3) drives growth-deterring democratic expansions. We provide historical support for our argument by analyzing the experience of 11 countries.
Franchise, growth, political competition, elites, industrialization
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