Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

Authoritarian Bargains:What They Mean for U.S. Policy Toward Dictators

Thursday, April 20, 2006 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm


***Please note there is a one time only change from our normal venue***
Herter Room (Nitze Building), 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
(on the ground floor, to the left as you enter the main lobby).
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
12:00 noon–1:30 p.m.

Tarik Yousef, Assistant Professor of Economics in the School of Foreign Service, and Shaykh Al-Sabah Chair in Arab Studies in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, will present The Logic of Authoritarian Bargains. Tom Carothers, Senior Associate and Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will serve as discussant. A light lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP to events@cgdev.org by April 18th.

ABSTRACT: The social contract in dictatorships is commonly explained as an “authoritarian bargain” between rulers and citizens by which citizens relinquish political rights for economic security. We conceptualize this bargain as a simple, repeated game between a representative citizen and an autocrat who faces the threat of insurrection. Our model highlights how different factors prompt non-democratic rulers to provide different bundles of welfare benefits and political rights in order to secure public support. Tests of this structural model with panel data comprising over 45 non-democratic states between 1984 and 1999 confirm the existence of authoritarian bargains and, in particular, of a basic tradeoff between the fiscal cost of welfare spending and the cost to the incumbency of political liberalization. Discussion at the seminar will focus on the implications of this phenomenon for US policy toward developing countries with authoritarian governments, with emphasis on the Middle East.

*The Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.