The Political Economy of Dictatorship

The Political Economy of Dictatorship

Although much of the world still lives today, as always, under dictatorship, the behavior of these regimes and of their leaders often appears irrational and mysterious. This book uses rational choice theory to understand dictators: How do "successful" dictatorships stay in power? What determines the repressiveness of a regime? How do their economies work? The book contains many applications, including chapters on Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism, South Africa under apartheid, and Pinochet's Chile. It also provides a guide to the policies that should be followed by the democracies towards dictatorships.


"At last we have a systematic, analytic account of dictatorship and authoritarian regimes. Wintrobe covers a range of topics, including the differential impacts of dictatorship and democracy on economic growth and redistribution. He also develops a theory of bureaucratic competition to explain how some dictatorships become effective mobilizers of social and economic resources. The range of applications is impressive, from the study of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, South African Apartheid, to ethnic conflict. Scholars may not always agree with Wintrobe, but they will always find him provocative and worth their effort." Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University

"The analysis of dictatorship has been a glaring gap in the public choice literature. Ronald Wintrobe's fine book admirably fills this gap." Dennis C. Mueller, University of Vienna

"...there is a wealth of insight here for everyone interested in probing the depths of the political id..." Leonard Dudley, Canadian Journal of Political Science

"The book explores both the politics and the economics of dictatorships and the interaction between them...It also provides a guide to the policies that should be followed by democracies moving toward dictatorship." The African Sun Times

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