IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Dictators and Social Contracts


  • Roland Kirstein
  • Stefan Voigt


This article explores conditions under which dictators comply with a social contract. We assume society to consist of two groups: one with a comparative advantage in using violence, the other with a comparative advantage in producing private goods. Violence can be used to produce security or to exploit the weaker group. The opportunity for exploitation is limited: it reduces the incentives of the exploited to produce private goods and increases the chances of revolution. Social contracts consist of the exchange of security against a share of the private good, produced at a high effort level. The model allows the derivation of conditions for either compliance or exploitation to occur and provides a comparative static explanation for the transition from one form of government to the other. Thus, it contributes to positive constitutional economics, the research program that is interested in explaining the emergence and change of constitutions. Copyright 2006 American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Roland Kirstein & Stefan Voigt, 2006. "Dictators and Social Contracts," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 863-889, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:65:y:2006:i:4:p:863-889

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Slottje, Daniel J, 1991. "Measuring the Quality of Life across Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 684-693, November.
    2. Blomquist, Glenn C & Berger, Mark C & Hoehn, John P, 1988. "New Estimates of Quality of Life in Urban Areas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 89-107, March.
    3. repec:mes:challe:v:38:y:1995:i:5:p:19-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:mes:challe:v:38:y:1995:i:5:p:12-18 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Levernier, William & Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S., 1998. "Differences in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan U.S. Family Income Inequality: A Cross-County Comparison," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 272-290, September.
    6. repec:mes:challe:v:39:y:1996:i:4:p:17-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:mes:challe:v:36:y:1993:i:2:p:58-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Joseph Gyourko, 1991. "How accurate are quality-of-life rankings across cities?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 3-14.
    9. Fedderke, Johannes & Klitgaard, Robert, 1998. "Economic Growth and Social Indicators: An Exploratory Analysis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 455-489, April.
    10. Hirschberg, Joseph G. & Maasoumi, Esfandiar & Slottje, Daniel J., 1991. "Cluster analysis for measuring welfare and quality of life across countries," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 131-150, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:65:y:2006:i:4:p:863-889. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.