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Political and gender oppression as a cause of poverty

By Peter Boone

Abstract

Political regimes and social rules have often served to suppress human rights and freedoms. In this paper I analyze the determinants of oppression when self-interested leaders seek to gain from oppressing a less powerful group. In my framework an oppressive regime is a rational equilibrium outcome and is characterized by distortionary macroeconomic policies, abuse of human rights, and a high incidence of poverty. Oppression ends if the benefits to oppressors decline, or if technological change raises the fighting power of oppressed groups. I use indicators of human rights abuses in 101 countries to examine the empirical determinants of gender, political and ethnic oppression along with the impact of oppression of poverty. I find that oppression declines with income, and that it is highly correlated with religious rules. I also find that oppression is positively correlated with basic poverty indicators. My point estimates imply that shifting from an oppressive equilibrium to a liberal equilibrium could reduce infant mortality rates by up to 87% in low income countries. One policy implication is that a system of international incentives and sanctions targeted to end oppression could permanently reduce poverty

Topics: HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform, HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Publisher: Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 1996
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:20648
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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