Transparency and Stability

Mehdi Shadmehr, Dan Bernhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We revisit the theory that Hollyer, Rosendorff, and Vreeland use in their research program on transparency and political stability. We show that in a representative citizen setting and in their multi-citizen model, more transparency increases the likelihood of revolution if this likelihood is sufficiently small, but reduces the likelihood of revolution if it is sufficiently large. Rather than coordination concerns, the mechanism driving this result reflects the logic of “gambling for resurrection”: when you’re ahead, don’t give information, but when you’re behind, gamble for resurrection by providing more information. Their model suggests that protest risk drives transparency, not the converse: regimes facing a low likelihood of revolution should reduce transparency, while those facing a high likelihood of revolution should raise transparency, generating a positive correlation between transparency and instability. Moreover, we show that in Hollyer et al.’s core models, a citizen’s net payoff from revolting does not depend on either the citizen’s private economic well-being, or the public economic situation: economic interest, either self-interest or sociotropic interest, is not itself an incentive to protest. Rather, the model is a sunspot game, with economic data playing the role of sunspots, which, by assumption, act as focal points for coordination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-139
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2022


  • Protest
  • Revolution
  • Stability
  • Transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Transparency and Stability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this