Economic Policy Under Dictatorship: Agricultural Policy as a Tool of Authoritarian Power-Sharing and Control
Posted: 19 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
In this paper I test the reciprocal relationship between agricultural policy and authoritarian regime durability. Farm trade and subsidy policies are used by undemocratic governments to solve distributional conflicts, and thus are a function of political threats to their rule. Simultaneously, they affect the magnitude of these threats and thus the likelihood of regime collapse. I estimate two-stage simultaneous equation models of political instability and policy, differentiating between urban unrest caused by food consumers and elite-driven transitions. I find that increasing farm subsidies significantly increases the risk of urban unrest while it decreases the likelihood of elite-driven regime failures, indicating a policy trade-off between consumer and producer interests. Completing the feedback loop, the threat of an elite-driven regime failure causes a response in the form of a significant increase in subsidy levels, while the threat of urban unrest does not have a significant effect on policy when controlling for relevant confounding factors. My results suggest that agricultural policy does have significant effects on political instability and authoritarian regime durability but, in contrast to previous findings, policy is determined more by intra-elite conflicts between farmers and the government than by the threat of urban unrest.
Keywords: agriculture, authoritarianism, democratization
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