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The latent characteristics that structure autocratic rule

Joseph Wright

Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 1, 1-19

Abstract: Research on autocratic regimes in comparative politics and international relations often uses categorical typologies of autocratic regimes to distinguish among different forms of autocracy. This paper introduces historical data on dozens of features of dictatorships to estimate latent dimensions of autocratic rule. We identify three time-varying dimensions of autocracy that correspond to ideal types proposed in the literature: party dominance, military rule, and personalism. We show that dimensions of autocratic rule are orthogonal to commonly-used measures of democracy–autocracy, and compare these dimensions to existing typologies of autocracies, showing that time-varying information on personalism is unique. We discuss a measurement model of personalism and illustrate the time-varying features of this measure in applied research on conflict initiation and regime collapse.

Date: 2021
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