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The Killing Game: Reputation and Knowledge in Politics of Succession

Georgy Egorov () and Konstantin Sonin ()

Game Theory and Information from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: The winner of a battle for a throne can either execute or spare the loser; if the loser is spared, he contends the throne in the next period. Executing the losing contender gives the winner an additional quiet period, but then his life is at risk if he loses to some future contender. The trade-off is analyzed within an infinite-time complete information game. Our theory predicts that we would witness more killings along the succession lines in countries where a ‘circle of potential contenders’ is limited, and that executions of the predecessor are autocorrelated. In particular, with a dynastic rule in place, incentives, to kill the predecessor are much higher than in a non- hereditary dictatorships, e.g. in 19th century Latin America. Our analysis of historical material demonstrates that long succession lines indeed exhibit patterns predicted by our model.

Keywords: succession; dictatorship (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C73 D72 N40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2005-05-06
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 37
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