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Oil income and the personalization of autocratic politics

  • Matthew D. Fails (a1)


Personalist regimes are more reliant on natural resource rents than other models of autocracy, but the direction of causation is unclear. Resource wealth could finance patronage and allow leaders to skip construction of institutionalized systems of rule, leading to more personalized autocracies. Conversely, personalist leaders may increase resource extraction, since diversifying the economy could increase the power of rivals. I use data on the degree of personalism and level of oil income to disentangle these interpretations. The results show that increases in oil income are associated with subsequent increases in personalism within autocracies. Since personalist regimes are less likely to successfully democratize, the results also provide important evidence as to why oil impedes democracy.


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Political Science Research and Methods
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