How often do dictators have positive economic effects? Global evidence, 1858-2010

Stephanie M. Rizio, Ahmed Skali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Supposedly well-intentioned dictators are often cited as drivers of economic growth. We examine this claim in a panel of 133 countries from 1858 to 2010. Using annual data on economic growth, political regimes, and political leaders, we document a robust asymmetric pattern: growth-positive autocrats (autocrats whose countries experience larger-than-average growth) are found only as frequently as would be predicted by chance. In contrast, growth-negative autocrats are found significantly more frequently. Implementing regression discontinuity designs (RDD), we also examine local trends in the neighbourhood of the entry into power of growth-positive autocrats. We find that growth under supposedly growth-positive autocrats does not significantly differ from previous realizations of growth, suggesting that even the infrequent growth-positive autocrats largely "ride the wave" of previous success. On the other hand, our estimates reject the null hypothesis that growth-negative rulers have no effects. Taken together, our results cast serious doubt on the benevolent autocrat hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101302
Number of pages18
JournalThe Leadership Quarterly
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Benevolent autocrats
  • Democracy
  • Autocracy
  • Economic growth
  • Leaders
  • REGRESSION-DISCONTINUITY
  • GROWTH EVIDENCE
  • DEMOCRACY
  • LEADERS
  • INSTITUTIONS
  • EVENTS
  • CHOICE
  • IMPACT
  • INCOME
  • WORLD

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'How often do dictators have positive economic effects? Global evidence, 1858-2010'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this