Research Handbook on Democracy and Development
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Research Handbook on Democracy and Development

Edited by Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai

Exploring and updating the controversial debates about the relationship between democracy and development, this Research Handbook provides clarification on the complex and nuanced interlinkages between political regime type and socio-economic development. Distinguished scholars examine a broad range of issues from multidisciplinary perspectives across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
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Chapter 7: Varieties of autocracy and human development

Andrea Cassani


The idea of a connection between a country’s political institutions and its human development record is not new, but attention has mostly focused on comparing democratic and non-democratic regimes, whereas the institutional differences characterizing the non-democratic universe have remained largely disregarded. This chapter examines how different institutional environments could shape the importance that autocrats attach to improving citizens’ living conditions. The discussion highlights autocratic survival strategies and time-horizon as two key dimensions of variance. Autocrats that rely on regime performance to hold on to power, and that face a longer time horizon, should pay more attention to citizens’ living conditions. Accordingly, using data on school enrolment and child mortality for the 1971-2015 period, a time-series cross-sectional analysis compares the human development performance of different forms of autocracy, using data on school enrolment and child mortality. Overall, the empirical test shows that elected autocrats in competitive autocracies and monarchs achieve better human development results.

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