Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright
Pennsylvania State University | Penn State · Department of Political Science

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70
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Publications

Publications (70)
Article
Most major nonviolent civil resistance campaigns target autocratic regimes. Yet, most dictators are toppled by their close supporters, not civilian protesters. Building on theories of strategic interactions between leaders, security agents, and protesters, we make three core claims: first, protesters are relatively less likely to mount a major nonv...
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Dictators shape regime structures to counter the threats they face. Personalization entails the progressive accumulation of power in the hands of the dictator to minimize internal threats from organized elites in the military and party. However, elites have incentives to resist the personalization to avoid being marginalized by personalist strongme...
Book
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In the growing body of work on democracy, little attention has been paid to its links with migration. Migration and Democracy focuses on the effects of worker remittances—money sent by migrants back to their home country—and how these resources shape political action in the Global South. Remittances are not only the largest source of foreign income...
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Can a movement reverse anything, least of all, dictatorships without understanding exactly how they intrinsically operate?
Preprint
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Dictators shape regime structures to counter the threats they face. Personaliza-tion entails the progressive accumulation of power in the hands of the dictator to minimize internal threats from organized elites in the military and party. However, elites have incentives to resist the personalization to avoid being marginalized by personalist strongm...
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Foreign aid donors increasingly embrace judicial autonomy as an important component of advancing democracy and promoting investment abroad. Recipient governments also recognize the importance of judicial reform for improving the investment climate at home. However, developing countries often lack the necessary state capacity that would enable them...
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Interest in authoritarian politics and democratic breakdown has fueled a revival in scholarship on coups d'état. However, this research is held back by the fact that no global coup dataset captures theoretically salient information on the identity of coup-makers, their goals, and the relationship between the coup leaders and the ruling regime. We i...
Preprint
In recent years, scholars have developed a number of new databases with which to measure protest. Although these databases have distinct coding rules, all attempt to capture incidents of social conflict. We argue, however, that due to a variety of sources of measurement error, subjective coding decisions, and operational specifications, no single i...
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Research on autocratic regimes in comparative politics and international relations often uses categorical typologies of autocratic regimes to distinguish among different forms of autocracy. This paper introduces historical data on dozens of features of dictatorships to estimate latent dimensions of autocratic rule. We identify three time-varying di...
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Remittances—money migrant workers send back home—are the second largest source of international financial flows in developing countries. As with other sources of international finance, such as foreign direct investment and foreign aid, worker remittances shape politics in recipient countries. We examine the political consequences of remittances by...
Book
Cambridge Core - Comparative Politics - How Dictatorships Work - by Barbara Geddes
Article
In the past two decades, much of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the primary sector has flowed to unconventional, politically risky destinations. This presents a puzzle for theories that emphasize the ex post immobility of—and hence high potential expropriation risk for—fixed asset investment. Existing theories overlook one critical aspect of fi...
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The North Korean regime is unique among dictatorships because it is both long-lasting and highly personalized. We argue that initial factionalization of the regime, coupled with the presence of multiple foreign backers early in the regime, allowed the first leader to personalize the regime by first wresting power from the military and then subseque...
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This paper re-examines the findings from a recently published study on hydrocarbon rents and autocratic survival by Lucas and Richter (LR hereafter). LR introduce a new data set on hydrocarbon rents and use it to examine the link between oil income and autocratic survival. Employing a placebo test, we show that the authors’ strategy for dealing wit...
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This article responds to “Reanalysis: Are coups good for democracy?” (Miller MK (2016) Reanalysis: Are coups good for democracy? Research and Politics 3(4): ) We make clear to readers that Miller (2016) re-reports findings that we originally reported in the Appendix to our original article. We then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of differ...
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A number of recent studies argue that coups can help usher in democracy. We examine this relationship empirically by looking at the political regimes that follow coups in autocracies, as well as the level of repression against citizens. We find that, though democracies are occasionally established in the wake of coups, more often new authoritarian...
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Researchers measure regime stability in autocratic contexts using a variety of data sources that capture distinct concepts. Often this research uses concepts developed for the study of democratic politics, such as leadership change or institutionalized authority, to construct measures of regime breakdown in non-democratic contexts. This article ass...
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Do remittances stabilize autocracies? Remittances—money sent by foreign workers to individuals in their home country—differ from other sources of external non-tax revenue, such as foreign aid, because they accrue directly to individuals and thus raise the incomes of households. We argue that remittances increase the likelihood of democratic transit...
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The authors study the influence of domestic political dissent and violence on incumbent dictators and their regimes. They argue that elite with an interest in preserving the regime hold dictators accountable when there is a significant increase in terrorism. To pinpoint the accountability of dictators to elite who are strongly invested in the curre...
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An important question for international investors concerns the relationship between political institutions and property rights. Yet a debate remains over whether authoritarian institutions promote favorable investment climates. Using data on oil nationalization in a sample of autocracies, this study finds that legislatures are correlated with lower...
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The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. By Svolik Milan W.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 258p. $88.00 cloth, $30.99 paper. - Volume 13 Issue 2 - Joseph Wright
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Do human rights prosecutions deter dictatorships from relinquishing power? Advances in the study of human rights show that prosecutions reduce repression in transition countries. However, prosecuting officials for past crimes may jeopardize the prospects of regime change in countries that have not transitioned, namely dictatorships. The creation of...
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Over the past two decades, donors increasingly link foreign aid to democracy objectives in Africa. This study investigates whether and how foreign aid influences specific outcomes associated with democratic transition and consolidation. Using an instrumental variables approach for the period from 1989 to 2008, we show that economic aid increases th...
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When the leader of an autocratic regime loses power, one of three things happens. The incumbent leadership group is replaced by democratically elected leaders. Someone from the incumbent leadership group replaces him, and the regime persists. Or the incumbent leadership group loses control to a different group that replaces it with a new autocracy....
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Military rule as a form of autocratic governance can mean either rule by a military strongman unconstrained by other officers or rule by a group of high-ranking officers who can limit the dictator's discretion. We label the latter form a military regime. Both military strongmen and military regimes are more likely to commit human rights abuses and...
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This article uncovers a new mechanism linking oil wealth to autocratic regime survival: the investigation tests whether increases in oil wealth improve the survival of autocracies by lowering the chances of democratization, reducing the risk of transition to subsequent dictatorship, or both. Using a new measure of autocratic durability shows that,...
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A key finding in the terrorism literature is that dictatorships experience less terrorism than democracies. However, we have few explanations for why some dictatorships experience substantial threats from terrorism while others do not. A growing body of work on authoritarian politics focuses on political institutions in these regimes to explain a b...
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This article examines how authoritarian parties and legislatures affect regime survival. While authoritarian legislatures increase the stability of dictators, political parties – even when devised to quell internal threats – can destabilize dictators. The main argument is that authoritarian parties influence the distribution of power in a subsequen...
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Over the past two decades, donors increasingly linked foreign aid to democracy objectives in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet systematic research on this topic typically focuses on how aid influences democratic transitions. This study investigates whether and how foreign aid affects the process of democratic consolidation in sub-Saharan Africa by examining...
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Over the past two decades, donors increasingly link foreign aid to democracy objectives in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet systematic research on this topic typically focuses on how aid influences democratic transitions. This chapter investigates whether and how foreign aid affects the process of democratic consolidation in Sub-Saharan Africa by examining...
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Do human rights prosecutions deter dictators from leaving power? Recent advances in the study of human rights show that prosecutions reduce repression in transition countries, providing evidence in favor of punishing human rights abusers. However, the traditional literature on transitions has usually emphasized that prosecuting officials for their...
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Recent research treats foreign aid and oil revenue as similar non-tax resources that hurt the prospects of democratization. Building on theories of state finance and democratization, this paper examines one avenue through which these resources affect democratization: government spending during times of economic crisis. Consistent with the resource...
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There is little consensus on whether foreign aid can reliably increase economic growth in recipient countries. We review the literature on aid allocation and provide new evidence suggesting that since 1990 aid donors reward political contestation but not political inclusiveness. Then we examine some challenges in analyzing cross-national data on th...
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This paper examines whether economic sanctions destabilize authoritarian rulers. We argue that the effect of sanctions is mediated by the type of authoritarian regime against which sanctions are imposed. Because personalist regimes and monarchies are more sensitive to the loss of external sources of revenue (such as foreign aid and taxes on trade)...
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This article examines how political institutions that provide an incentive to cultivate a personal vote condition the relationship between foreign aid and economic growth in developing country democracies. Politicians in aid-recipient countries with high levels of personalism are more likely to pursue corruption and target government spending to na...
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This paper examines whether human rights naming and shaming destabilizes the rule of authoritarian leaders. We argue that human rights shaming can destabilize autocratic leaders by signaling international disapproval to elites in the targeted country, increasing their capacity to replace the incumbent. In personalist regimes, shaming increases the...
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Donors in recent years have made some foreign aid conditional on progress toward democracy. This study investigates whether and how such conditionality works in practice. The promise of higher aid if the country democratizes only provides an incentive for democratization for political leaders who expect to remain in office after democratization occ...
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Does economic crisis lead to authoritarian regime breakdown and democratization? In this paper, I argue that the availability of exit options for citizens conditions the relationship between economic crisis and democratization. Where citizens have more viable exit alternatives, economic crisis causes citizens to exit rather than protest, making dem...
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This paper enquires into whether economic sanctions are effective in destabilizing authoritarian rulers. We argue that this effect is mediated by the type of authoritarian regime against which sanctions are imposed. Thus, personalist regimes and monarchies, which are more dependent on aid and resource rents to maintain their patronage networks, are...
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This article explores why authoritarian regimes create legislatures and then assesses their effect on economic growth and investment. In authoritarian regimes more dependent on domestic investment than natural resource revenue, the dictator creates a binding legislature as a credible constraint on the regime's confiscatory behavior. In regimes depe...
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This article examines the way in which the initial level of political competition in a new democracy affects the stability of that regime. The author argues that new democracies with low levels of initial political competition are more likely to fail because those initially excluded from the democratic game seek to subvert the regime in the future....
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In this article, the author argues that the time horizon a dictator faces affects his incentives over the use of aid in three ways. First, dictators have a greater incentive to invest in public goods when they have a long time horizon. Second, dictators with short time horizons often face the threat of challengers to the regime; this leads them to...
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Earlier research suggests that poor economic performance is an important determinant of au-thoritarian regime breakdown and democratization. However, many dictatorships appear to be impervious to economic crisis. In this paper, I argue that the availability of exit options for cit-izens and a dictator's access to non-tax revenue resources condition...
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Research on authoritarian regimes in comparative politics and international relations has burgeoned in the past two decades. However, this research relies on cross-sectional, categorical typologies to measure theoretically diverse features of dictatorships, such as the size of the support coalition, the level of institutionalization, the degree to...
Article
Full-text available
Earlier research suggests that poor economic performance is an important determinant of au-thoritarian regime breakdown and democratization. However, many dictatorships appear to be impervious to economic crisis. In this paper, I argue that the availability of exit options for citizens conditions the relationship between economic crisis and democra...
Article
Full-text available
Does oil income stabilize autocratic regimes? While the conventional wisdom claims that oil wealth prolongs autocratic rule by hindering democratization, recent challenges to this claim suggest that no relationship between oil and democracy exists. Neither perspective, however, investigates other ways oil wealth might encourage autocratic stability...
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Do authoritarian leaders manipulate the economy around election time? Evidence from case studies suggests the presence electoral budget cycles in hegemonic dictatorships. However, we do not know if electoral budget cycles exist in other dictatorships. After providing global evidence for an electoral spending cycle, we explore one explanation for el...
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Thesis (A.M.)--Washington University, 1999. Center in Political Economy. Includes bibliographical references.