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Rent seeking, revolutionary threat and coups in non-democracies

Paul Maarek () and Michael Dorsch ()

No 2015-13, THEMA Working Papers from THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise

Abstract: This paper studies the political turnover process in autocracies due to coup d’états. We present a model in which autocratic rulers are politically constrained both by the elite and by the street. In the model, these political constraints are inter-related such that when leaders extract rent from the economy on behalf of the elite they increase the probability of facing a revolt in the street. We suppose that rulers di↵er in the efficiency with which they extract rents and citizens make inference about the ruler’s type when idiosyncratic shocks occur. Equilibria are characterized in which elite-led coups serve to reset citizens’ beliefs about the leader’s type and pre-empt revolutions during periods of popular unrest. We then investigate the theory’s empirical implications using panel data on popular unrest and coups in sub-Saharan Africa. We pursue a strategy to instrument for the intensity of popular unrest, the results of which support the causal mechanism highlighted in our theory.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
Date: 2015
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