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The winner of a battle for a throne can either execute or spare the loser; if the loser is spared, he contends the throne in the next period. Executing the losing contender gives the winner an additional quiet period, but then his life is at risk if he loses to some future contender who might be, in equilibrium, too frightened to spare him. The trade-off is(More)
Electoral fraud is a widespread phenomenon, especially outside the developed world. Despite abundant qualitative and anecdotal evidence on its existence from around the world, there is very limited quantitative evidence on the extent of electoral fraud. We exploit random assignment of independent observers to 156 of 3,164 polling stations in the city of(More)
A central feature of collective decision-making in many social groups, such as political coalitions, international unions, or private clubs, is that the rules that govern regulations, procedures for future decision-making, and inclusion and exclusion of members are made by the current members and under the current regulations. This feature implies that(More)
In unequal societies, the rich might beneet from shaping economic institutions into their favor. This paper analyzes dynamics of institutional subversion focusing on one particular institution, public protection of property rights. If this institution is imperfect, agents have incentives to invest in private protection of property rights. With economies of(More)
We present a formal model of government control of the media to illuminate variation in media freedom across countries and over time, with particular application to less democratic states. The extent of media freedom depends critically on two variables: the mobilizing character of the government and the size of the advertising market. Media bias is greater(More)
We study the dynamic selection of governments. A government consists of a subset of the individuals in the society. The competence level of the government in ooce determines collective utilities (e.g., by determining the amount and quality of public goods), and each individual derives additional utility from being part of the government (e.g., corruption or(More)
When voters fear that politicians may have a right-wing bias or that they may be in ‡uenced or corrupted by the rich elite, signals of true left-wing conviction are valuable. As a consequence, even a moderate politician seeking reelection chooses 'populist'policies— i.e., policies to the left of the median voter— as a way of signaling that he is not from(More)
The possibility of treason by a close associate has been a nightmare of most dictators throughout history. Better informed viziers are also better able to discriminate among potential plotters, and this makes them more risky subordinates for the dictator. To avoid this, dictators, especially those which are weak and vulnerable, sacrifice the competence of(More)
We study the formation of a ruling coalition in nondemocratic societies where institutions do not enable political commitments. Each individual is endowed with a level of political' power. The ruling coalition consists of a subset of the individuals in the society and decides the distribution of resources. A ruling coalition needs to contain enough powerful(More)