The Political Economics of Non-democracy

60 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2020 Last revised: 2 Jun 2022

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 6, 2020


We survey recent theoretical and empirical literature on political economics of non-democracies. Nondemocratic regimes face multiple challenges to their rule, both internal, such as palace coups or breakdown of their support coalition, and external, such as mass protests or revolutions. We analyze strategic decisions made by dictators from the standpoint of maximizing the chances of regime survival in the light of these challenges, and show how it explains multiple patterns, from hiring political loyalists to positions that require competence, to restricting media freedom at the cost of sacrificing bureaucratic efficiency, to running propaganda campaigns, organizing election fraud, purging opponents and associates, and repressing citizens.

Keywords: nondemocratic politics, authoritarianism, dictatorship, bureaucracy, electoral fraud, protests, revolutions, coup d’etat, media freedom, propaganda, censorship, repressions, institutionalized ruling party

JEL Classification: P16, D74, D72, D82, C73, D83

Suggested Citation

Egorov, Georgy and Sonin, Konstantin, The Political Economics of Non-democracy (October 6, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-142, Available at SSRN: or

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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