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Faculty of Economics

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Jong-A-Pin, R. and Mierau, J.

No Country for Old Men: Aging Dictators and Economic Growth


Abstract: This paper develops a model of the relationship between the age of a dictator and economic growth. In the model a dictator must spread the resources of the economy over his reign but faces mortality and political risk. The model shows that if the time horizon of the dictator decreases, either due to an increase of mortality risk or political risk, the economic growth rate decreases. The model predictions are supported by empirical evidence based on a three-way fixed effects model including country, year and dictator fixed effects for a sample of dictators from 116 countries. These results are robust to sample selection, the tenure of dictators, the definition of dictatorship, and a broad set of economic growth determinants.

Keywords: Aging, economic growth, government performance, political instability, political leaders

JEL Codes: H11 O11 O43


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