, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 397-423
Date: 12 Nov 2011

Which Dictators Produce Quality of Government?

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Abstract

This study deals with the effects of authoritarian regimes on state capacity or the quality of government (QoG): do some types of dictatorship (military, monarchy, and civilian) perform better than others? More importantly, which are the mechanisms through which different authoritarian rulers produce better government? The article argues theoretically, first, that single-party regimes are more responsive to citizens’ demands than other types of authoritarian rule because they have a structured mechanism to channel citizens’ “voices” (the single party). As a consequence, they will provide QoG following societal demands, which are low in low-income countries and high in high-income ones. Second, the effect of the other relevant authoritarian types—monarchies and military regimes—is exclusively conditional on rulers’ self-interests. We predict that with short-sighted rulers, monarchies and military regimes will tend to under-provide QoG. In contrast, when monarchs and military rulers have long-term horizons, these types of authoritarian regimes will have a positive effect on QoG. Employing a sample of over 70 authoritarian countries from 1983 to 2003, we find empirical support for these interactive effects. In single-party autocracies, the higher (lower) the average income, the higher (the lower) the QoG; while albeit weaker support than the first finding, in monarchies in particular, the longer (shorter) the government’s time horizon, the higher (the lower) the QoG.