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The Control of Politicians in Divided Societies: The Politics of Fear


  • Gerard Padró i Miquel


Autocrats in many developing countries have extracted enormous personal rents from power. In addition, they have imposed inefficient policies including pervasive patronage spending. I present a model in which the presence of ethnic identities and the absence of institutionalized succession processes allow the ruler to elicit support from a sizeable share of the population despite large reductions in welfare. The fear of falling under an equally inefficient and venal ruler that favours another group is enough to discipline supporters. The model predicts extensive use of patronage, ethnic bias in taxation, and spending patterns and unveils a new mechanism through which economic frictions translate into increased rent extraction by the leader. These predictions are consistent with the experiences of bad governance, ethnic bias, wasteful policies, and kleptocracy in post-colonial Africa. Copyright 2007, Wiley-Blackwell.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2007. "The Control of Politicians in Divided Societies: The Politics of Fear," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(4), pages 1259-1274.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:4:p:1259-1274

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2008. "The Efficacy of Parochial Politics: Caste, Commitment, and Competence in Indian Local Governments," NBER Working Papers 14335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Amegashie, J. Atsu, 2008. "Autocratic rule in ethnically-diverse societies," MPRA Paper 8933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2010. "Political Selection and Persistence of Bad Governments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1511-1575.
    4. Sourav Bhattacharya & Joyee Deb & Tapas Kundu, 2015. "Mobility and Conflict," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 281-319, February.
    5. Marina Azzimonti, 2011. "Barriers to Investment in Polarized Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2182-2204, August.
    6. Petros Sekeris, 2011. "Endogenous elites: power structure and patron-client relationships," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 237-258, September.
    7. Baland, Jean-Marie & Moene, Karl Ove & Robinson, James A., 2010. "Governance and Development," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    8. Christensen, Jonas Gade, 2011. "Democracy and Expropriations," Working Papers in Economics 06/11, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.

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