Political Survival and Endogenous Institutional Change

Incumbent political leaders risk deposition by challengers within the
existing political rules and by revolutionary threats. Building on Bueno
de Mesquita et al's (2003) selectorate theory, the model here examines
the policy responses of office seeking leaders to revolutionary threats.
Whether leaders suppress public goods such as freedom of assembly and
freedom of information to hinder the organizational ability of potential
revolutionaries or appease potential revolutionaries by increasing the
provision of public goods depends, in part, upon the sources of
government revenues. Empirical tests show that governments with access
to revenue sources that require few labor inputs by the citizens, such
as natural resource rents or foreign aid, reduce the provision of public
goods and increase the odds of increased authoritarianism in the face of
revolutionary pressures. In contrast, without these sources of unearned
revenues governments respond to revolutionary pressures by increasing
the provision of public goods and democratizing.
The data and code to replicate this study are available. This archive
also contains numerous additional robustness tests. All data in Stata 9