Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 6 > Issue 3–4

The Political Consequences of Franchise Extension: Evidence from the Second Reform Act

Samuel Berlinski, Inter-American Development Bank, IZA and Institute for Fiscal Studies;, samuelb@iadb.org , Torun Dewan, London School of Economics and Political Science, t.dewan@lse.ac.uk
Suggested Citation
Samuel Berlinski and Torun Dewan (2011), "The Political Consequences of Franchise Extension: Evidence from the Second Reform Act", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 6: No. 3–4, pp 329-376. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00011013

Publication Date: 16 Nov 2011
© 2011 S. Berlinski and T. Dewan
Representation,  Electoral institutions,  Electoral behavior,  Political history


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In this article:
Background: Electoral Reform and the Second Reform Act 
Interpreting and Understanding the Second Reform Act 
Data and Descriptive Statistics 
Empirical Strategy: Identifying the Effect of Franchise Extension on Political Outcomes 
Robustness Checks 
Legislative Behavior and Franchise Extension: The Case of the Abolition of Church Rates Bill 


We use evidence from the Second Reform Act, introduced in the United Kingdom in 1867, to analyze the impact on electoral outcomes of extending the vote to the unskilled urban population. Exploiting the sharp change in the electorate caused by franchise extension, we separate the effect of reform from that of underlying constituency level traits correlated with the voting population. Although we find that the franchise affected electoral competition and candidate selection, there is no evidence relating Liberal electoral support to changes in the franchise rules. Our results are robust to various sources of endogeneity.