Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Stockholm School of Economics Asia Working Paper Series,
Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute

No 2014-30: Accountability in Autocracies: The Role of Revolution Threat

Yuan Li () and Mario Gilli
Additional contact information
Yuan Li: Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Mario Gilli: University of Milan-Bicocca

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the joint work of two mechanisms that might constrain autocratic rulers: the threat of a coup by the political elite and of a revolution by the citizens. Our results will help explain a well-established and crucial fact, that is, that autocracies are far more likely than democracies to be either the best or the worst performers in terms of growth and of public goods policies. To this aim, we focus on accountability within dictatorships using a common agency model where the political elite and the citizens are the principals and the autocrat is the agent. Our results highlight that both excessively strong and excessively weak dictators lead to poor economic performances, while a balanced distribution of de facto political power is required to incentivize the ruler to choose congruent economic policies.

Keywords: autocracy; accountability; coup; revolt

JEL-codes: D02; D74; H11

36 pages, First version: February 17, 2014. Revised: March 6, 2014.

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