DP15344 The Political Economics of Non-democracy

Author(s): Georgy Egorov, Konstantin Sonin
Publication Date: October 2020
Keyword(s): bureaucracy, Censorship, coup d'etat, Dictatorship, electoral fraud, media freedom, nondemocratic politics, Propaganda, repressions, Revolutions
JEL(s): C73, D72, D74, D82, D83, P16
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15344

We survey recent theoretical and empirical literature on political economy of non-democracies. Dictators face many challenges to their rule: internal, such as palace coups or breakdown of their support coalition, or external, such as mass protests or revolutions. We analyze strategic decisions made by dictators --- hiring political loyalists to positions that require competence, restricting media freedom at the cost of sacrificing bureaucratic efficiency, running a propaganda campaign, organizing electoral fraud, purging associates and opponents, and repressing citizens --- as driven by the desire to maximize the regime's chances of staying in power. We argue that the key to understanding the functioning and ultimately the fate of a nondemocratic regime is the information flows within the regime, and the institutions that govern these information flows.