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Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome


  • Weiffen, Brigitte


Summary From an international comparative perspective, the stability of autocratic regimes in the countries of the Gulf region is striking. This paper presents historical-cultural as well as economic explanations and proposes that the interaction of both factors constitutes a cultural-economic syndrome accounting for the persistence of authoritarianism. Macro-quantitative analyses demonstrate the significant influence of this syndrome, which operates through a mechanism of mutual reinforcement and substitution. Departing from this diagnosis, potential remedies are discussed: political and economic reform measures pursued in the 1990s are explored, and the Gulf monarchies are classified according to four ideal-typical combinations of reform strategies.

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  • Weiffen, Brigitte, 2008. "Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2586-2604, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:36:y:2008:i:12:p:2586-2604

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:03:p:435-452_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:101:y:2007:i:03:p:505-525_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
    6. Tarik M. Yousef, 2004. "Development, Growth and Policy Reform in the Middle East and North Africa since 1950," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 91-115, Summer.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:04:p:903-910_09 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Rougier, Eric, 2016. "“Fire in Cairo”: Authoritarian–Redistributive Social Contracts, Structural Change, and the Arab Spring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 148-171.
    2. Doris Hanzl-Weiss & Michael Landesmann & Isilda Mara & Arno Tausch & Jan Toporowski, 2013. "Monthly Report No. 8-9/2013," wiiw Monthly Reports 2013-08-09, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    3. Doris Hanzl-Weiss & Michael Landesmann & Kateryna Markevych & Sandor Richter & Vasyl Yurchyshyn, 2013. "Monthly Report No. 7/2013," wiiw Monthly Reports 2013-07, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    4. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2011. "Political Instrumentalization of Islam and the Risk of Obscurantist Deadlock," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 243-260, February.


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