Transitions and Political Stability in Autocracies. The Role of Public Perception
University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 383
100 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 16, 2018
The literature on the functioning of autocracies has not analyzed the consequences of the fact that policies have multiple dimensions and that these dimensions are perceived with different bias by people. This fact is obviously more striking in autocracies where the public perception of policies' effects might be partially manipulated. We try to fill the gap. This paper makes three contributions to the literature on the functioning of autocratic regimes. First, we show that, maybe counterintuitively, both the probability of full efficient and full inefficient policies decrease as opacity increases, while the probability of partially efficient policies has the opposite behavior. This implies that the probability of efficient policies on different policy dimensions diverges as opacity increases, and this provides an explanation for the observed heterogeneity of policies within an autocracy. Second, the expected probability of a coup has a non monotone behavior w.r.t. opacity, so that at intermediate level an increment in opacity might actually increase the likelihood of a selectorate coup. Finally, also the expected probability of a citizens' revolt might have a non monotone behavior w.r.t. opacity, so that the likelihood of a revolt might actually increase as opacity increases. We conclude that the effect of bias in public perception of some policy dimension is non monotone on authoritarian regime stability. These results provide a reason to explain why transition periods are dangerous for a dictator.
Keywords: Multidimensional policies, public perception, political stability
JEL Classification: D02, H11, D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation