Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2011:24: Autocracies and Development in a Global Economy: A Tale of Two Elites

Anders Akerman (), Anna Larsson () and Alireza Naghavi ()
Additional contact information
Anders Akerman: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Anna Larsson: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Alireza Naghavi: University of Bologna and FEEM, Postal: Department of Economics, University of Bologna , Piazza Scaravilli 2, Bologna 40126, Italy

Abstract: Data on the growth performances of countries with similar comparative (dis)advantage and political institutions reveal a striking variation across world regions. While some former autocracies such as the East Asian growth miracles have done remarkably well, others such as the Latin American economies have grown at much lower rates. In this paper, we propose a political economy explanation of these diverging paths of development by addressing the preferences of the country's political elite. We build a theoretical framework where factors of production owned by the political elites differ across countries. In each country, the incumbent autocrat will cater to the preferences of the elites when setting trade policy and the property rights regime. We show how stronger property rights may lead to capital accumulation and labor reallocation to the manufacturing sector. This, in turn, can lead to a shift in the comparative advantage, a decision to open up to trade and an inflow of more productive foreign capital. Consistent with a set of stylised facts on East Asia and Latin America, we argue that strong property rights are crucial for success upon globalization.

Keywords: Autocracy; Growth; Political Elites; Landowners; Capitalists; Growth Miracles; Trade; Comparative Advantage; Capital Mobility; Property Rights

JEL-codes: F10; F20; O10; O24; P14; P16

37 pages, June 1, 2011

Full text files

wp11_24.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Sten Nyberg ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:38:27.