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The Killing Game: Reputation and Knowledge in Politics of Succession

  • Georgy Egorov

    (New Economic School/CEFIR)

  • Konstantin Sonin

    (New Economic School/CEFIR, & Institute for Advanced Study)

The winner of a battle for a throne can either execute or spare the loser; if the loser is spared, he contends the throne in the next period. Executing the losing contender gives the winner an additional quiet period, but then his life is at risk if he loses to some future contender. The trade-off is analyzed within an infinite-time complete information game. Our theory predicts that we would witness more killings along the succession lines in countries where a ‘circle of potential contenders’ is limited, and that executions of the predecessor are autocorrelated. In particular, with a dynastic rule in place, incentives, to kill the predecessor are much higher than in a non- hereditary dictatorships, e.g. in 19th century Latin America. Our analysis of historical material demonstrates that long succession lines indeed exhibit patterns predicted by our model.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Game Theory and Information with number 0505003.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 06 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0505003
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 37
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Luca Anderlini (Georgetown University), Dino Gerardi (Yale University), Roger Lagunoff (Georgetown University), 2004. "The Folk Theorem in Dynastic Repeated Games," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-09, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Drew Fudenberg & David Kreps & Eric Maskin, 1988. "Repeated Games with Long-Run and Short-Run Players," Working papers 474, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Roger Lagunoff, 2005. "Markov Equilibrium in Models of Dynamic Endogenous Political Institutions," Game Theory and Information 0501003, EconWPA.
  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. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Why Not a Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment and Politics," NBER Working Papers 9377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  8. Jeffrey C. Ely & Juuso Välimäki, 2003. "Bad Reputation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 785-814, August.
  9. Roger Lagunoff, 2002. "Credible Communication in Dynastic Government," Wallis Working Papers WP34, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  10. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1980. "Predation, Reputation, and Entry Deterrence," Discussion Papers 427, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. J. Tirole & E. Maskin, 1982. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, I: Overview and Quantity Competition with Large-Fixed Costs," Working papers 320, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2005. "Dictators and Their Viziers: Agency Problems in Dictatorships," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp735, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Politics and Economics in Weak and Strong States," NBER Working Papers 11275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Herschel I. Grossman & Suk Jae Noh, 1990. "A Theory Of Kleptocracy With Probabilistic Survival And Reputation," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 157-171, 07.
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