Daron Acemoğlu, Tarek Hassan, Ahmed Tahoun, 01 February 2015

Corruption and favouritism have motivated people to protest against the ruling regimes. In Egypt, in particular, the protests brought down Hosni Mubarak's government. To what extent this reduced the corruption and favouritism is less clear. This column sheds light on this problem. It present evidence that daily protest numbers were linked to variation in stocks prices of firms connected to the group in power. This suggests that popular mobilisation and protests have indeed a role in restricting the ability of connected firms to profit from favouritism and corruption.

Toke Aidt, Gabriel Leon, Raphael Franck, Peter Jensen, 08 January 2015

Some theories suggest that the threat of revolution plays a pivotal role in democratisation. This column provides new evidence in support of this hypothesis. The authors use democratic transitions from Europe in the 19th century, Africa at the turn at the 20th century, and the Great Reform Act of 1832 in Great Britain. They find that credible threats of revolution have systematically triggered pre-emptive democratic reforms throughout history.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi, Giovanni Prarolo, 08 December 2012

Islam spread remarkably quickly before the era of European colonialism. This column argues that an important economic factor in determining the geographic range was spatial inequality that necessitated a politically unifying force like Islam. Regions that harboured such economic inequality were especially ripe for a system like Islam that offered progressive redistributive tenets with centralised authority to enforce them.

Emmanuel Frot, Anders Olofsgård, Maria Perrotta, 26 October 2012

What does the Arab Spring mean for development in the region? This column looks at development aid during the political transition in East Europe in the 1990s. It argues that aid donors need to be aware of the potential pitfalls.

Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, James Vreeland, 11 August 2012

Will democracy establish itself in the Middle East? This column looks at what is needed to start democracies are what is needed to keep them going. It argues that that it is the level of economic development – not short-run economic growth – that is needed for democracy to survive.

Chris Ellis, John Fender, 26 October 2011

For the Arab Spring it was Twitter; for the summer riots in London it was BlackBerry Messenger. This column explores how the latest technology is helping to accelerate ‘information cascades’, where people make decisions based on what they see other people doing – and getting away with.

Fabrice Murtin, Romain Wacziarg, 05 October 2011

As witnessed during this year’s Arab Spring, democracy doesn’t always emerge smoothly. This column examines the long march toward political freedom since 1800. It argues that while both income and education affect democracy, the rise in primary education has been the main driver of democratisation over 1870-2000.

Jean-Pierre Chauffour, 15 June 2011

The Arab Spring is again raising fundamental questions about the place of freedom and entitlement in economic development. Reviewing the performance of more than 100 countries over the past 30 years, this column finds evidence that economic freedom and civil and political liberties are the root causes of why certain countries achieve and sustain better economic outcomes than others.