Travail de recherche/Working paper
Résumé : Which dimension of economic development spurred support to democracy? This study focuses on industrialization as the dimension triggering the process of “modernization”. It uses a new dataset on Napoleonic plebiscites under the second French Empire (1852-1870). The results in those plebiscites provide a detailed cross-départements (French main administrative units) measure of opposition to autocracy. This study uses the variations in the thriving French modernization to disentangle the effect of industrialization on the vote from the one of other dimensions of economic development. The results show that a ten-percent increase in industrialization reduced the share of “Yes” ballots by 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the 1870 plebiscite. An IV strategy using distance to the first city having adopted steam engines, access to coal and waterpower as instruments confirms causality. The baseline results are robust to controlling for other explanations of the vote and to using alternative specifications and estimation methods.