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The Dictator Effect: How Long Years in Office Affects Economic Development in Africa and the Near East

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  • Papaioannou, Jason
  • Van Zanden, Jan Luiten

Abstract

This paper contributes to the growing literature on the links between political regimes and economic development by studying the effects of years in office on economic development. The hypothesis is that dictators who stay in office for a long time period will become increasingly corrupt, and that their poor governance will impact on economic growth (which is reduced), inflation (which increases) and the quality of institutions (which deteriorates). This may be related to the fact that their time horizon is shrinking: they develop (in the terminology developed by Olson) from ‘stationary bandits’ into ‘roving bandits’. Or they may get caught into a ‘disinformation trap’, caused by the ‘dictator dilemma’. We test these hypotheses and indeed find strong evidence for the existence of a dictator effect: the length of the rule is negatively related to economic growth and the quality of democratic institutions, and positively related to inflation. This effect is particularly strong in young states and in ‘single-party’ regimes. The negative effect of years in office was almost constant in time and did not disappear after about 1992.

Suggested Citation

  • Papaioannou, Jason & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2012. "The Dictator Effect: How Long Years in Office Affects Economic Development in Africa and the Near East," CEPR Discussion Papers 8962, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8962
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Eric Chang & Miriam A. Golden, 2010. "Sources of Corruption in Authoritarian Regimes," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-20.
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    7. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
    8. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:03:p:567-576_10 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Wintrobe,Ronald, 1998. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521583299, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dóra Zolcsák, 2015. "The effect of political leaders on economic growth through institutional change," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 18(58), pages 175-190, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; dictatorships; economic growth; political institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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