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Transitions and Political Stability in Autocracies. The Role of Public Perception

Mario Gilli () and Yuan, Li

No 383, Working Papers from University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics

Abstract: The literature on the functioning of autocracies has not analyzed the consequences of the fact that policies have multiple dimensions and that these dimensions are perceived with di¤erent bias by people. This fact is obviously more striking in autocracies where the public perception of policies' effects might be partially manipulated. We try to fill the gap. This paper makes three contributions to the literature on the functioning of autocratic regimes. First, we show that, may be counter-intuitively, both the probability of full e¢ cient and full inefficient policies decrease as opacity increases, while the probability of partially efficient policies has the opposite behavior. This implies that the probability of efficient policies on different policy dimensions diverges as opacity increases, and this provides an explanation for the observed heterogeneity of policies within an autocracy. Second, the expected probability of a coup has a non monotone behavior w.r.t. opacity, so that at intermediate level an increment in opacity might actually increase the likelihood of a selectorate coup. Finally, also the expected probability of a citizens' revolt might have a non monotone behavior w.r.t. opacity, so that the likelihood of a revolt might actually increase as opacity increases. We conclude that the e¤ect of bias in public perception of some policy dimension is non monotone on authoritarian regime stability. These results provide a reason to explain why transition periods are dangerous for a dictator.

Keywords: Multidimensional policies; public perception; political stability. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D02 D74 H11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 100
Date: 2018-07-13, Revised 2018-07-13
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mic and nep-pol
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