Authoritarian Regimes and Public Goods Structure and Survival

Benjamin E Torres, University of Texas at El Paso


What explains the variance in the level of public goods provision in authoritarian regimes? Naturally, there are differences in the capabilities of states, however, there is a noticeable trend in the level of output from certain authoritarian states. Democracies have a clear causal mechanism for public goods provision, which is the electoral mandate, but dictatorships lack this feature. Hence the question is posed, why do some authoritarian states put so much effort into the provision of public goods? Singapore is considered one of the most developed states in the world, (outperforming some of the most democratic states.) yet it is deeply authoritarian. The argument I make is that consolidation and survival strategies focused on “calibrated coercion” (George, 2007) are key in public goods provision. George (2007) refers to calibrated coercion as the use of a wide range of tools used by the state to influence the behavior of people within the regime. This combination of consolidation and coercive strategies are best expressed when a regime maintains a dominant political party. Finally, this research presents a mixed methods approach of qualitative and quantitative methods to answer this question. Provided are cross-sectional statistical analyses comparing indicators of consolidation and structure to indicators of public good provision and case studies that demonstrate the phenomenon. The findings of my empirical research support my theory that consolidated dominant-party regimes do have a positive relationship with the provision of public goods. However, this effect is not as pronounced as it should be, in the category of dominant-party regimes, because not enough is done to delineate the types of dominant-party regimes and their institutional makeup. This weak empirical support is reinforced through the use of case studies I have selected that demonstrate my theory.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Torres, Benjamin E, "Authoritarian Regimes and Public Goods Structure and Survival" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30242314.