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Do Juntas Lead to Personal Rule?

American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, Vol. 99, No. 2, pp. 298-303, 2009

12 Pages Posted: 14 May 2009 Last revised: 15 Oct 2009

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: January 1, 2009

Abstract

Although almost half of the world's population lives under nondemocratic regimes, the questions of how policy decisions are made and how power changes hands in nondemocracies have received relatively little attention in the political economy literature. Gordon Tullock (1987) suggested that because there are no strong institutions ensuring consensus and regulating the election and succession of leaders, non-democratic regimes rapidly degenerate into personal rule, where a single dictator dominates every aspect of decision-making. In this paper, we draw on our work on dynamic coalition formation and investigate Tullock's conjecture formally. Our game-theoretic analysis leads to the opposite of Tullock's conjecture: provided that players are sufficiently forward-looking, juntas do not dynamically converge to personal rule. On the contrary, relatively large juntas may emerge and persist as ruling coalitions for a very simple and intuitive reason: the absence of strong institutions not only enables some junta members to eliminate others, but also implies that current members cannot make credible commitments and in particular cannot refrain from engaging in further rounds of elimination.

Keywords: nondemocratic politics, coalition formation, political economy, self-enforcing coalitions, stability

JEL Classification: D71, D74, C71

Suggested Citation

Acemoglu, Daron and Egorov, Georgy and Sonin, Konstantin, Do Juntas Lead to Personal Rule? (January 1, 2009). American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, Vol. 99, No. 2, pp. 298-303, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1402933

Daron Acemoglu

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

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NBER ( email )

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Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

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Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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