Governance and the Dimensions of Autocracy

22 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018

See all articles by Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

Southern Methodist University (SMU)

Date Written: March 28, 2018


Recent work at the frontiers of classical liberal political economy returned to the idea that certain autocratic political institutions may improve on the consensus liberal, constitutional democratic political institutions. This paper will discuss conceptually how these new arguments, predatory forms of autocracy, the status quo of constitutional democracy, and the proponents of more majoritarian forms of democratic governance should be understood in terms of one another. It will then perform a simple empirical examination of the modern world, looking at the quality of governance by country by the quality of its democracy, conditional on a country’s economic output, education, and culture. Examples of autocracy with good governance, even when conditioning on these other variables, are sufficiently rare to raise serious questions for the new classical liberal proponents of autocracy.

Keywords: Democracy, Autocracy, Governance, Executive Constraint

JEL Classification: O43, D72, P50

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Ryan, Governance and the Dimensions of Autocracy (March 28, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Ryan Murphy (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University (SMU) ( email )

6212 Bishop Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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