In an autocracy, the ruling elite allocates resources to unproductive contest activities in order to protect its power. This paper establishes that a flatter income distribution, a slow-growing or shrinking capital stock, and a decrease in the relative size of the workforce increases the likelihood of a decision by the ruling elite to negotiate a transition to democracy. In a model of economic cooperation and political conflict, the losses from ceding control over the tax rate may be lower than the costs of defending minority privilege. These predictions are evaluated in the light of the South African and other recent transitions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics