Which Dictators Produce Quality of Government?
This study deals with the effects of authoritarian regimes on state capacity or the quality of government (QoG): do some types of dictatorship (military, monarchy, single-party or personalist) perform better than others? More importantly, which are the mechanisms through which different authoritarian rulers produce better government? The paper argues theoretically, first, that single-party regimes are more responsive to citizens’ demands than other types of authoritarian rule because they have a structured mechanism to channel citizens’ “voices” (the single party). As a consequence, they will provide QoG following societal demands, which are low in low-income countries and high in high-income ones. Second, the effect of the other relevant authoritarian types – monarchies and military regimes – is exclusively conditional on rulers’ self-interests. With short-sighted rulers, monarchies and military regimes will tend to under-provide QoG. In contrast, when monarchs and military rulers have long-term horizons, these types of authoritarian regimes will have a positive effect on QoG. Employing a sample of over 70 authoritarian countries from 1983-2003, we find empirical support for these interactive effects. In single-party autocracies, the higher (lower) the average income, the higher (the lower) the QoG; while in monarchies and military regimes, the longer (shorter) the government’s time horizon, the higher (the lower) the QoG.
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