Danger all Along. How foreign military threats and domestic power-sharing shape autocratic state-building.
Standard international relations accounts hold that military buildup by neighboring states leads to increased state-building efforts by authoritarian rulers. In contrast, this study shows that only some dictators will respond by building up stronger states. The reason is that autocrats worry not only about foreign threats but also about threats from within. Power-sharing institutions reduce intra-elite conflict, making such threats less pertinent. Dictatorships with power-sharing institutions are thus less concerned with internal threats and can respond to foreign threats with more ambitious state-building efforts. Using TSCS-data for the world’s autocracies between 1960-2009, the study finds strong support for these claims.
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