Property rights in dictatorships: kings protect property better than generals or party bosses

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Knutsen, Carl Henrik; & Hanne Fjelde (2013) Property rights in dictatorships: kings protect property better than generals or party bosses, Contemporary Politics 19(1): 94–114.

​This paper investigates whether types of dictatorships differ systematically when it comes to the protection of property rights. Differentiating between monarchies, military regimes, one-party and multiparty autocracies, the paper argues that different dictatorial institutions create different incentives to protect property and enforce contracts by influencing the time horizon of the ruling elite. Where rulers fear losing power and regime insiders are uncertain about their own political survival beyond the dictator, expropriation of property is more likely to take place. The paper reports evidence that monarchic autocracies protect property rights relatively well compared to other types of dictatorships, and even when compared to democracies was found. In these regimes, dynastic succession and certainty about the composition of the future elite provide rulers with relatively long time horizons for their dynasties, reducing incentives to expropriate property for short-term gain.​​

Available online

Authors

Carl Henrik Knutsen

Carl Henrik Knutsen

Senior Researcher; Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo

Hanne Fjelde

Hanne Fjelde

Senior Researcher, PRIO; Assistant Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University