Information Cascades and Regime Change

Inspired by earlier posts, I began to research Ellis, C. J. and Fender, J. (2011), Information Cascades and Revolutionary Regime Transitions. The authors combined two models of regime determination and Lohmann’s model of political mass protest. By examining the “forces behind political regime determination in a world where information is asymmetric”, they strove to to explain the situations where there is a peaceful transition to democracy after a revolution. They also explained the rare case of a stable oligarchic regime which is replaced by democracy. 

Their conclusions are that in equilibrium, both successful and unsuccessful revolutions that seek regime change can take place. In either case, the revolution may be an economic mistake. An example given is that the poor may rebel, but the result of the revolution may actually be worse off for them. In most cases, the wealthy are always worse off. Finally, they believe their main contribution is “to model the information transmission process that leads to a possible rebellion and then use this to gain new insights into the determination of political regimes.” 

Frankly, I don’t understand their model (yet), but our discussion on Bayes and other implementations of information cascades has surely helped me to understand large parts of it. I look forward to working through it in the future. 

But I have found at least one issue in their model. They treat revolution as a singular event, when in reality, it is multiple events taking place all around the same time and culminating in something that historians look back on and paint with a wide brush as a revolution. I’m not sure if there is a solution to modeling such incredibly complex phenomena, but I’m sure interested. This course, and our blog, has exposed me to economic perspectives I didn’t know existed.