Leader-Driven Resource Blessing? Old Dictators, Natural Resources, and Competitive Elections
31 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017
Date Written: February 5, 2017
This paper examines the conditions under which dictators introduce competitive elections, and looks specifically at the role played by a dictator's age. Conventional wisdom argues that leaders become better at retaining power over time. By contrast, I argue that a dictator's risk of violent removal increases as a dictator ages because his advancing age increases ruling coalition members' uncertainty, and declines their expected utility from their share of rents. As a result, I argue that older dictators are more likely to introduce elections in order to head off potential defection from the coalition. Using a large-N, cross-national dataset on dictators and competitive elections between 1960 and 2004, this paper examines the argument and finds that as dictators age, they are generally more likely to introduce competitive elections, all else equal. The analysis also tests two observable implications of the mechanism and shows that nontax revenues and regime types affect how dictators' age leads to the introduction of competitive elections. The finding offers a more nuanced mechanism of autocratic regime durability and resource curse.
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