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The Dictator's Inner Circle

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  • Patrick Francois
  • Ilia Rainer
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

We posit the problem of an autocrat who has to allocate access to the executive positions in his inner circle and define the career profile of his own insiders. Statically, granting access to an executive post to a more experienced subordinate increases political returns to the post, but is more threatening to the leader in case of a coup. Dynamically, the leader monitors the capacity of staging a coup by his subordinates, which grows over time, and the incentives of trading a subordinate's own position for a potential shot at the leadership, which defines the incentives of staging a palace coup for each member of the inner circle. We map these theoretical elements into structurally estimable hazard functions of terminations of cabinet ministers for a panel of postcolonial Sub-Saharan African countries. The hazard functions initially increase over time, indicating that most government insiders quickly wear out their welcome, and then drop once the minister is fully entrenched in the current regime. We argue that the survival concerns of the leader in granting access to his inner circle can cover much ground in explaining the widespread lack of competence of African governments and the vast heterogeneity of political performance between and within these regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "The Dictator's Inner Circle," NBER Working Papers 20216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20216
    Note: DEV POL
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20216.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2011. "Dictators And Their Viziers: Endogenizing The Loyalty–Competence Trade‐Off," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(5), pages 903-930, October.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Alfred Marshall Lecture: Kleptocracy and Divide-and-Rule: A Model of Personal Rule," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 162-192, 04/05.
    3. Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2015. "How Is Power Shared in Africa?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 465-503, March.
    4. von Soest, Christian, 2006. "How Does Neopatrimonialism Affect the African State? The Case of Tax Collection in Zambia," GIGA Working Papers 32, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:01:p:19-34_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jennifer Gandhi & Adam Przeworski, 2006. "Cooperation, Cooptation, And Rebellion Under Dictatorships," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, March.
    8. Chris Bidner & Patrick Francois & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "A Theory of Minimalist Democracy," NBER Working Papers 20552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Wintrobe,Ronald, 1998. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521583299, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chris Bidner & Patrick Francois & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "A Theory of Minimalist Democracy," NBER Working Papers 20552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:deveco:v:132:y:2018:i:c:p:115-129 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. De Luca, Giacomo & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Valsecchi, Michele, 2018. "Ethnic favoritism: An axiom of politics?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 115-129.
    4. Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2015. "How Is Power Shared in Africa?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 465-503, March.
    5. Kai A. Konrad & Vai-Lam Mui, 2015. "The Prince – or better no prince? The Strategic Value of Appointing a Successor," Monash Economics Working Papers 15-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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