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When is a State Predatory?

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  • James A. Robinson

Abstract

I argue that whether or not a state is "predatory" hinges on the relationship between development and the distribution of political power in society. Development is typically inconsistent with the preservation of the political status quo and this gives those who initially hold political power an incentive to oppose it. I show that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the likelihood of predatory behaviour may be positively related to the extent to which a regime is encompassing and values the future. The model also predicts that the lower is the level of income, and the more unequal is society, the more likely the state is to be predatory. Initial inequality, since it influences the likelihood of political transition, is a crucial determinant of policy choice. I also show how factor endowments influence policy: states in economies relatively endowed with natural resources, or where the elite's wealth is concentrated in land, are more likely to be predatory.

Suggested Citation

  • James A. Robinson, 1999. "When is a State Predatory?," CESifo Working Paper Series 178, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_178
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    Cited by:

    1. Joel Guttman & Rafael Reuveny, 2014. "On revolt and endogenous economic policy in autocratic regimes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 27-52, April.
    2. Temple, Jonathan, 2001. "Growing into Trouble: Indonesia After 1966," CEPR Discussion Papers 2932, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2011. "Emergence And Persistence Of Inefficient States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 177-208, April.
    4. Konrad, Kai A., 2002. "Investment in the absence of property rights; the role of incumbency advantages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1521-1537, September.
    5. Daron Acemoglu, 2006. "Modeling Inefficient Institutions," NBER Working Papers 11940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jody Overland & Kenneth Simons & Michael Spagat, 2005. "Political instability and growth in dictatorships," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 445-470, December.
    7. Jonathan H. Conning & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Land Reform and the Political Organization of Agriculture," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-10, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    8. Christopher J. Ellis & John Fender, 2014. "Public Sector Capital and the Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(3), pages 322-346, June.
    9. Guriev, Sergei & Sonin, Konstantin, 2009. "Dictators and oligarchs: A dynamic theory of contested property rights," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 1-13, February.
    10. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2005. "Decentralization, Corruption and Government Accountability: An Overview," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-152, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    11. Ashok Chakravarti, 2012. "Institutions, Economic Performance and the Visible Hand," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14751, April.
    12. Amegashie, J. Atsu, 2008. "Autocratic rule in ethnically-diverse societies," MPRA Paper 8933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
    14. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1999. "Inflation and Welfare: Comment on Robert Lucas," CEPR Discussion Papers 2111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
    16. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital or Constituencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 5867, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Benno J. Ndulu & Stephen A. O'Connell, 1999. "Governance and Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 41-66, Summer.
    18. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 2001. "The Politics of Co-optation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 591-607, December.
    19. Raghuram G. Rajan, 2006. "Competitive Rent Preservation, Reform Paralysis, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 12093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Guido De Blasio & A. Dalmazzo, 2001. "Resources and Incentives to Reform; A Model and Some Evidence on Sub-Saharan African Countries," IMF Working Papers 01/86, International Monetary Fund.

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    Keywords

    development; political economy; autocracy; democracy;

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