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Time Under Authoritarian Rule and Economic Growth

31 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2007  

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University; Independent Institute

Harvey S. James

University of Missouri

Date Written: July 2007


We investigate the relationship between exposure to "authoritarian" or "autocratic" institutions for prolonged periods of time and long-term economic development. Specifically, we examine how the length of time a country's regime was authoritarian between 1920 and 2000 is correlated with economic growth and per capita income. We find a moderate though negative effect, even after controlling for other factors. In contrast, we also find that the length of time a country is not subject to authoritarian regimes is positively related to economic growth and the level of per capital income. We claim this evidence is consistent with the thesis that one of the reasons why countries have had difficulty adjusting to life after autocracy is that the human and social capital necessary to make markets "work" eroded under autocratic regimes and takes time to develop afterward.

Keywords: authoritarianism, autocracy, institutions, development

JEL Classification: O17, O43, P0

Suggested Citation

Carden, Art and James, Harvey S., Time Under Authoritarian Rule and Economic Growth (July 2007). CORI Working Paper No. 2007-02. Available at SSRN: or

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States


Independent Institute ( email )

100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
United States

Harvey S. James (Contact Author)

University of Missouri ( email )

146 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States
573-884-9682 (Phone)
573-882-3958 (Fax)


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