Dictators, development, and the virtue of political instability

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A large body of literature stresses the benefits of regime stability for economic growth in poor countries. This view, however, discounts the gains from threats to regime security when populations living under dictatorial regimes cannot benefit from the disciplining of political competition available to voters in democracies. This paper applies a model of economic growth to study the sources of the differences in economic performance and repression policy among dictatorships as well as the parallel in dictatorial regimes of the benefits achieved through political competition in democracies. Threats to the security of dictatorial regimes are shown to be a means of benefiting the population through the responses of the regime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Dictatorship
  • Growth
  • Political stability
  • Repression


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