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Inequality under Authoritarian Rule

  • Terence K. Teo (a1)


Since the turn of the century, much comparative politics scholarship has examined whether and how income inequality affects the prospects of democratization and, to a lesser extent, whether democracy reduces inequality. What is lacking, however, is a close examination of the extent of income inequality in authoritarian regimes. This article examines the variation in inequality across authoritarian regimes and argues that electoral competition – in conjunction with party ideology and the extent of party institutionalization – helps explain the pattern of inequality under authoritarian rule. I find that electoral authoritarian (EA) regimes – regimes in which multiple parties legally compete in elections – have lower levels of inequality compared to non-EA regimes. I further find that inequality is lower in EA regimes with left-leaning ruling parties and more institutionalized party systems. This analysis highlights the value of exploring the dynamics and contingent effects of electoral competition in authoritarian regimes.


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