Autocracy and Variation in Economic Development Outcomes

29 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2018

See all articles by Carl Henrik Knutsen

Carl Henrik Knutsen

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 2018

Abstract

I discuss and analyze the vast variation in development outcomes among autocracies, focusing on economic growth. I highlight plausible explanations of this variation pertaining to features of the leader, institutions, or the regime’s support coalition. Next, by analyzing data from more than 180 polities and with time series extending back to 1789, I present descriptive patterns and tests corroborating that variation in growth – in the shorter and longer term, across and within countries – is higher among autocracies than democracies. Finally, I assess the explanations for why some autocracies have higher growth than others. This exercise suggests that single-party autocracies have higher growth than personalist regimes and monarchies. Higher degrees of party institutionalization also correlate positively with growth. I find several (surprising) negative and null results. Notably, neither stronger legislative constraints on the autocrat nor the size of an autocratic regime’s support coalition correlate positively with growth.

Keywords: Autocracy, Democracy. Economic development, Economic growth, Institutions, Support coalitions

Suggested Citation

Knutsen, Carl Henrik, Autocracy and Variation in Economic Development Outcomes (November 2018). V-Dem Working Paper 2018:80. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3286949 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3286949

Carl Henrik Knutsen (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Olso, 0851
Norway

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