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Scott Gehlbach

The vast majority of the world's population has always had limited access to political (and economic) institutions. Yet until recently the overwhelming share of intellectual effort in political economy, if not always New Institutional Economics, was devoted to the study of mature democracies. This imbalance has begun to be reversed, and with vigor. Much of the contemporary literature on non-democracy falls into two broad areas of inquiry: (1) the analysis of formal institutions such as elections, parties, and legislatures, and (2) the study of autocratic control, typically through the manipulation of beliefs. Scholars of NIE will recognize in this characterization a familiar divide between formal institutions, on the one hand, and social norms and beliefs, on the other. Looking ahead, the most promising opportunities for research lie in a truly comparative analysis of the formal institutions of non-democracy and the study of how formal and informal institutions interact.