Public debt and the birth of the democratic state: France and Great Britain, 1688–1789

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book develops new theory about the link between debt and democracy and applies it to a classic historical comparison: Great Britain in the eighteenth century which had strong representative institutions and sound public finance vs. ancient regime France, which had neither. The book argues that whether representative institutions improve commitment depends on the opportunities for government creditors to form new coalitions with other social groups, more likely to occur when a society is divided across multiple political cleavages. It then presents historical evidence to show that improved access to finance in Great Britain after 1688 had as much to do with the development of the Whig Party as with constitutional changes. In France, it is suggested that the balance of partisan forces made it unlikely that an early adoption of ‘English-style’ institutions would have improved credibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages210
ISBN (Electronic)9780511510557
ISBN (Print)0521809673, 9780521809672
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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