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Regime spoiler or regime pawn: the military and distributional conflict in non-democracies


  • Amegashie, J. Atsu


I consider a model in which an autocrat can be removed from power either through a military coup or a revolution by the citizens. In the event of a revolt by the citizens, the military may choose to support the autocrat to crush the revolt or play a passive role. The autocrat determines the distribution of the country's wealth among himself, the military, and the citizens. I find that, under certain conditions, there exists a unique Markov perfect equilibrium in which there are no coups, the citizens revolt in each period, and the military fights on behalf of the autocrat. Under a different set of conditions, there is another Markov perfect equilibrium in which there are no coups, the citizens always revolt, but the military does not fight the revolt. However, peace (no revolts) is also an equilibrium of the model. The model is consistent with the persistence of social unrest or civil wars in certain countries and the different roles played by the military in different countries. Surprisingly, I find that if the citizens' outside option (i.e., payoff in a democracy) improves, this is likely to make them worse off. Furthermore, an increase in natural resources is likely to make the citizens worse off because it reduces the probability of a transition to democracy or the prospect of good governance in autocracy. I discuss other implications of the model and relate it to real-world events.

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  • Amegashie, J. Atsu, 2014. "Regime spoiler or regime pawn: the military and distributional conflict in non-democracies," MPRA Paper 55336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55336

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2010. "Persistence of Civil Wars," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 664-676, 04-05.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2010. "A Theory of Military Dictatorships," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-42, January.
    3. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2009. "Testing the neocon agenda: Democracy in resource-rich societies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 293-308, April.
    4. Gallego, M. & Pitchik, C., 2004. "An economic theory of leadership turnover," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2361-2382, December.
    5. Kevin K. Tsui, 2011. "More Oil, Less Democracy: Evidence from Worldwide Crude Oil Discoveries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 89-115, March.
    6. Milan W. Svolik, 2013. "Contracting on Violence," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 57(5), pages 765-794, October.
    7. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, January.
    8. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
    9. Michael Alexeev & Robert Conrad, 2009. "The Elusive Curse of Oil," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 586-598, August.
    10. Timothy Besley & James A. Robinson, 2010. "Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Civilian Control Over the Military," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 655-663, 04-05.
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    More about this item


    autocracy; continuation value; military; Markov equilibrium; revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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