Dictators Walking the Mogadishu Line: How Men Become Monsters and Monsters Become Men

30 Pages Posted: 9 May 2014

See all articles by Shaun Larcom

Shaun Larcom

University of Cambridge

Mare Sarr

University of Cape Town - School of Economics

Tim Willems

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine

Date Written: April 19, 2014

Abstract

History offers many examples of dictators who worsened their behavior significantly over time (like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe), while there are also cases of dictators who have displayed remarkable improvements (like Jerry Rawlings of Ghana). We show that such mutations can result from rational behavior when the dictators flow use of repression is complementary to his accumulated stock of wrongdoings. This complementarity gives rise to two steady states (one where repression is low and one where repression is high) and implies that any individual rising to power in this setup has the potential to end up as either a moderate leader, or as a dreaded tyrant. Our model shows that dictators are more likely to derail with higher levels of divertible funds available, for example stemming from fungible aid inflows or from the exploitation of natural resources.

Keywords: Dictatorship, Repression, Political violence, Resource curse, Learning, Multiple steady states

JEL Classification: D72, D74, N47, O10

Suggested Citation

Larcom, Shaun and Sarr, Mare and Willems, Tim, Dictators Walking the Mogadishu Line: How Men Become Monsters and Monsters Become Men (April 19, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2434323 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2434323

Shaun Larcom

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.landecon.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-shaun-larcom

Mare Sarr

University of Cape Town - School of Economics ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Cape Town 7701
South Africa
+27 (0)21 650 2982 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/sarrmare/

Tim Willems (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

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