The Latent Characteristics That Structure Autocratic Rule
66 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2014 Last revised: 17 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 12, 2017
Research on autocratic regimes in comparative politics and international relations has burgeoned in the past two decades, and often uses categorical typologies of autocratic regimes to distinguish among different types of dictatorships. Building on advances in methods for estimating the latent dimensions of democracy, this paper uses historical data on dozens of features of dictatorships to identify latent features of autocratic rule. We identify three time-varying dimensions of autocracy that correspond to the ideal types proposed in the literature: party dominance, military rule, and personalism. We show that the dimensions of autocratic rule are orthogonal to commonly-used measures of democracy-autocracy and compare these dimensions to existing typologies of autocratic regimes. We show that while party dominance and military rule can be measured using existing data sets, the new time-varying measure of personalism is unique.
Keywords: authoritarian rule, personalist regimes, latent dimensions
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