Autocracy, Bureaucracy, and Civil War

33 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 14 Aug 2010

See all articles by Magnus Öberg

Magnus Öberg

Uppsala University

Erik Melander

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2010


In this study on the relationship between the quality of government institutions and civil war we examine the effect of bureaucracy quality on the risk of civil war in different institutional settings. In autocratic regimes governments cannot rely on mass media, opinion polls, public expressions of popular opinion and so on to keep it informed about the nature and scope popular grievances. Instead, autocratic regimes will largely have to rely on various government agencies to inform them about the state of public opinion. We argue that this makes the quality of the government bureaucracies important for the maintenance of civil peace in autocratic states. More autonomous and meritocratic bureaucracies will be better able to provide the information needed to devise strategies and policies that reduce the risk of violent challenges to government power. Using a cross-sectional time-series dataset covering most countries of the world during the period 1985-2004, and a comprehensive set of control variables, we find that high bureaucracy quality is indeed strongly associated with civil peace in autocratic regimes. These results are robust to alternative specifications.

Suggested Citation

Öberg, Magnus and Melander, Erik, Autocracy, Bureaucracy, and Civil War (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Magnus Öberg (Contact Author)

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 514
Uppsala, 75120

Erik Melander

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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