Stability and Change of Authoritarian Regimes: A Systematic Comparison of Institutional and Material Conditions

Dr. Thomas Richter
2011 - 2015
German Research Foundation (DFG)
Cooperation partners

Archives of the International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC

Dr. Daniel Lambach, University of Duisburg-Essen

Ferdinand Eibl, University of Oxford

Prof. Dr. Martin Beck, University of Southern Denmark in Odense



Research Questions
The project focuses primarily on the following issues:

  • What impact does the interaction between the quantity and quality of material resources on the one hand and different political institutions on the other have on stability and change in authoritarian regimes?
  • What parsimonious combination or combinations of resource-specific and institutional factors can be identified to explain stability and/or change in authoritarian regimes?
  • Is there more than one combination of explanatory factors that determines stability and change in authoritarian regimes, regardless of region and time?

In particular, the project analyses three different aspects of authoritarian regimes:

  • Regime stability: duration of the survival of an authoritarian regime
  • Regime breakdown: events in the disintegration of an authoritarian regime
  • Authoritarian regime change: quality of a regime after the breakdown of an authoritarian regime

Contribution to International Research
The project aims to fill an existing gap between the fields of political economy and comparative politics in the study of authoritarian regimes. It is closely linked to the research on the structural determinants of authoritarian rule, a literature largely dominated by US researchers. By systematically broadening the perspective adopted in this literature, the project unites the two central branches of this macrocomparativeresearch. It also improves the validity of important measures of state revenues and expenditures, which will be useful for more general analysis of political regimes over time.

Research Design and Methods
The project triangulates documents analysis with regression and QCA techniques. During the first phase, the researchers have compared existing data on authoritarian regime types and have developed a framework for evaluating different measurements of authoritarian regime type. They have also collected data on types and levels of income as well as data on the distributional capacities of authoritarian regimes from sources at the IMF Archives. Additionally, they have created the Global State Revenues and Expenditures (GSRE) Data Set, which includes over 50 indicators. In the project’s second phase, project staff is combining statistical data analyses with methods of qualitative comparison at a macro-level. In addition to descriptive statistics and simple correlation and regression techniques (logistic regression), they are using statistical models taken from survival analysis. Three different QCA techniques are also being deployed during the course of the project.

Preliminary Results
A preliminary version of the Global State Revenues and Expenditures (GSRE) dataset was introduced at several national and international conferences (DVPW, APSA, IPSA). Based on this new data, a number of interesting conclusions can be drawn: First, public wages and salaries as an element of authoritarian mass co-opation are crucial.They constitute a previously neglected mechanism of stabilising authoritarian rule irrespective of the autocracy type. Second, social welfare distributions are more important for those authoritarian regimes which base their rule on broader social coalitions like party regimes. Third, the increase of indirect per capita taxation due to the implementation of value added taxation reform exerts destabilising effects upon all types of authoritarian regimes.

Research Team