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Despite the close ties between tax-generated revenue and government policies, little is known about how political institutions shape the structure of tax choices across income levels. We propose and test a model based on the selectorate perspective, which predicts that leader choices regarding taxing and spending are driven by their desire to maximize their survival prospects against domestic challengers. The empirical tests investigate the conditions under which income taxes are non-existent, flat, more regressive or more progressive, and the degree of heterogeneity in tax systems as a function of governance institutions. The empirical results strongly and robustly support the theoretical predictions while also shedding light on how tax structures implemented in large coalition systems reduce income inequality.
Parties can elitcit widespread electoral support by making the distribution of prizes or rewards to groups of voters contingent upon electoral support. In addition to altering which party wins, a voter's choice also influences the distribution of prizes. This latter factor, referred to in this article as prize pivotalness, tends to be the dominant influence in vote choice. The desire to win prizes can induce voters to coalesce into a highly supportive group, even if they dislike the party's policies. Characterizing voting equilibria in this framework explains the rationale for the support of patronage parties, variance in voter turnout and the endogenous political polarization of groups in both established and new democracies.
We model how the size of a leader's support coalition and government revenues affect trades between policy concessions and aid. We find that aid benefits donor and recipient leaders, while harming the recipient's, but not the donor's, citizenry. The willingness to grant policy concessions for aid depends on how easily leaders can reimburse supporters for their concession. As coalition size increases, incumbents rely more on public goods to reward supporters, making it difficult to compensate for policy concessions. Small-coalition leaders rely more on private goods to retain office, making it easier for them to grant policy concessions for aid. Empirical tests of bilateral aid transfers by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations between 1960 and 2001 support the predictions that (1) aid is given by wealthy, large-coalition systems; (2) relatively poor, small-coalition systems are most likely to get aid; but, (3) conditional on receiving aid, the amount increases as the recipient's coalition size, wealth, and policy salience increase. Evidence suggests that OECD members have little humanitarian motivation for aid giving.
Kevin Clarke and Randall Stone (2008) offer a methodological critique of some of our tests of the selectorate theory in The Logic of Political Survival (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 2003). We accept their critique of residualization for control variables in those tests, but reject the contention that the size of the winning coalition does not predict the provision of public goods and private benefits. We present new tests that control for elements of democracy other than W and that do not use residualization. These new tests show that selectorate theory is strongly and robustly supported. Our measure of the size of the winning coalition is in the theoretically predicted direction and is statistically significant for 28 out of 31 different public goods and private benefits. Aspects of democracy not contained in the selectorate theory explain less of the variance than does the theory's core factor, namely, winning coalition size, for 25 of the 31 public goods and private benefits.
James Russell and Quincy Wright suggested in the Review in 1933 that the danger of conflict could be diminished by looking within states to discern what contributes to the risk of war. Revolutions in game theory technology and political economy modeling are helping to advance those goals. The combination of non-cooperative game theory as an analytic tool and the assumptions of political economy models about leaders' domestic interests and incentives offer a different explanation of international relations from that suggested by realist theories and other state-centric viewpoints. Together with more macro-level theorizing we gain insights into what makes some polities more prone to international conflict than others. By adding the micro-level, game theoretic investigation of domestic factors to the analytic repertoire we have now supplemented the aspects of received wisdom that are consistent with the record of history with explanations for puzzling facts about conflict that no longer seem anomalous.
Recent events have raised questions about the extent to which military
intervention promotes democracy and the degree to which this depends on
the nature of the intervener. We argue that traction on these issues is
best obtained by focusing on the policies of the target state that have
the greatest implications for the political survival of the intervening
state's leader and the kind of governmental institutions in the
target state that are most likely to produce them. This perspective
generally—although not always—predicts that third-party
military intervention in civil wars, other intra- or interstate disputes
and wars will lead to little if any improvement, and all too often erosion
in the trajectory of democratic development. Three hypotheses on the
impact of third-party intervention by democracies, autocracies, and the
United Nations are then tested and strongly supported against a
counterfactual expectation of what the democratic trajectory would have
been in the absence of intervention.We
benefited greatly from the wise counsel of Feryal Cherif, Michael
Gilligan, Shanker Satyanath, and Alastair Smith, each of whom read or
discussed in depth earlier versions of this study. Patrick Regan was also
extremely helpful in providing data and guidance in the use of the data on
interventions that he has made available. The study was significantly
improved by the insightful advice of the anonymous reviewers (we wish we
could thank them by name) and by Lisa Martin's able and thoughtful
guidance. Authors often complain about referees; we have nothing but
praise for the contributions they made. Of course, we alone are
responsible for any errors and for all remaining shortcomings in this
Ecclesiastes teaches that, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven (Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1).” Although methodological seasons come and go, I believe most students of politics are united in their purpose. We want to understand how the world of politics works. Some may be motivated in this purpose by a desire to improve, or at least influence, the world, others to satisfy intellectual curiosity, and still others by mixes of these and other considerations. Within the generally agreed purpose for studying politics, however, there are important differences in emphasis that lead to variations in methodological choices. For instance, those concerned to establish the verisimilitude and precision of specific conjectures about particular political events are likely to choose the case study method and archival analysis as the best means to evaluate the link between specific events and particular explanations. Those concerned to establish the general applicability or predictive potential of specific conjectures are likely to choose experimental designs or large-N, statistical analysis as the best means to evaluate the link between independent and dependent variables. Those concerned to probe normative arguments or to engage in social commentary will find other methods, such as poststructuralism and some forms of constructivism, more fruitful.
Whatever the explanatory goal and whatever the substantive concern, research benefits from efforts to establish the logical foundation of propositions as it is exceedingly difficult to interpret and build upon commentary or analysis that is internally inconsistent.
The authors tested five novel hypotheses derived from the selectorate theory of war with data for up to about 140 states and spanning the years 1816–1993. The hypotheses point to subtle differences in selection effects across regime types that should operate during crises that fall short of war and also during wars. Leaders who rely on a large coalition (such as democrats) to remain in office are shown to be more selective than their small-coalition counterparts in their willingness to fight wars when the odds of victory are not overwhelming. They are also more selective than their small-coalition counterparts in their willingness to take part in disputes that fall short of war when the odds are not exceptionally favorable. However, they are less selective about this form of participation than they are about war. Small-coalition leaders show no such selectivity in their preparedness to engage in disputes short of war or in war as a function of their odds of victory. These results hold whether the odds of victory are assessed continuously or whether they are based on a specific threshold. The authors also find, in keeping with the selectorate theory, that if a war fails to resolve quickly, democrats try harder than autocrats to win. And when the war is over, democrats demobilize much more slowly than autocrats.
Institutional arrangements influence the type of policies that leaders pursue. We examine two institutional variables: size of the selectorate (S) – the set of people who have an institutional say in choosing leaders – and the size of the winning coalition (W) – the minimal set of people whose support the incumbent needs in order to remain in power. The larger the winning coalition, the greater the emphasis leaders place on effective public policy. When W is small, leaders focus on providing private goods to their small group of supporters at the expense of the provision of public goods. The size of the selectorate influences how hard leaders work on behalf of their supporters. The greater the size of the selectorate, the more current supporters fear exclusion from future coalitions. This induces a norm of loyalty that enables leaders to reduce their effort and still survive. As a first step towards a theory of endogenous selection of institutions, we characterize the institutional preferences of the different segments of society based on the consequences of these institutions for individual welfare. We conclude by examining the implication of the model for the tenure of leaders, public policy, economic growth, corruption, taxation and ethnic politics.
We examine formally the link between domestic political institutions and policy choices in the context of eight empirical regularities that constitute the democratic peace. We demonstrate that democratic leaders, when faced with war, are more inclined to shift extra resources into the war effort than are autocrats. This follows because the survival of political leaders with larger winning coalitions hinges on successful policy. The extra effort made by democrats provides a military advantage over autocrats. This makes democrats unattractive targets, since their institutional constraints cause them to mobilize resources for the war effort. In addition to trying harder, democrats are more selective in their choice of targets. Because defeat is more likely to lead to domestic replacement for democrats than for autocrats, democrats only initiate wars they expect to win. These two factors lead to the interaction between polities that is often referred to as the democratic peace.
The evolution of crises depends upon interpreting intentions under uncertainty. We model crises as a game of two-sided incomplete information. Players are uncertain about their own payoffs from war because of differences between observable and actual capabilities. We derive four hypotheses, testing them against crises in Europe between 1815 and 1970. We show a nonmonotonic relationship between ex ante observable capabilities and the likelihood of violence in a crisis, as well as the ex ante likelihood of a negotiated settlement. We answer five questions: (1) How do differences in observable capabilities between rivals influence the likelihood of a crisis and the escalation to violence? (2) How do intangible capabilities alter the effects of observable capabilities on the likelihood of conflict and violence? (3) What do national leaders learn from the responses of their adversaries in crises? (4) Under what conditions can deterrence succeed? (5) Under what conditions are the strong likely to give in to the weak or vice versa in a crisis?
We seek to answer the question, What effect does international war participation have on the ability of political leaders to survive in office? We develop a model of political reliability and derive seven related hypotheses from it that anticipate variation in the time a national political leader will survive in office after the onset of a war. Drawing upon a broadly based data set on state involvement in international war between 1816 and 1975, our expectations are tested through censored Weibull regression. Four of the hypotheses are tested, and all are supported by the analysis. We find that those leaders who engage their nation in war subject themselves to a domestic political hazard that threatens the very essence of the office-holding homo politicus, the retention of political power. The hazard is mitigated by longstanding experience for authoritarian elites, an effect that is muted for democratic leaders, while the hazard is militated by defeat and high costs from war for all types of leaders. Additionally, we find that authoritarian leaders are inclined to war longer after they come to power than democratic leaders. Further, democratic leaders select wars with a lower risk of defeat than do their authoritarian counterparts.
Governments are likely to be held accountable for the success or failure of their foreign policies. Consequently, we claim that international wars can, under specified conditions, have domestically instigated consequences for violent regime change in the political systems of the participants. Drawing upon all international war participation between 1816 and 1975, we seek to answer the question, Do wars lead to violent changes of regime and if so, under what conditions? Three hypotheses set out the expected associations of a nation's initiator or target role in a war, the war outcome, and the costs of the war with domestically instigated violent changes of regime. Direct relationships are found for all three and hold even against possible threats to their validity and robustness. The results suggest that domestic politics play a larger role in national security policy than is generally believed by realist or neorealist theorists.
Using a game-theoretic model of international interactions, the author shows that systemtransforming wars can result from a relatively small dispute between rivals who are basically satisfied with the international status quo. Such wars are likely to be relatively low in costs even if they are profound in their consequences. The possibility of such system-transforming wars is overlooked by the theories of power-transition, or hegemonic, war.
The Seven Weeks' War is an example of a system-transforming conflict that can be understood by combining the insights of theories concerned with differential growth rates and of those derived from the game-theoretic perspective suggested here. The combination of these two perspectives expands the explanatory potential of existing theories of system-transforming wars.
Domestic opposition to violent, escalatory national policies during international crises has long been considered an important factor influencing the foreign policy behavior of nations. Yet the explicit theoretical linkages between domestic opposition and crisis choices have not been investigated. To provide these linkages, we set out an extensive form game of sequential decisions leading to the various consequences of crises together with their attendant costs and benefits. Our findings indicate that an antagonist's beliefs about domestic opposition are not particularly effective levers to manipulate in crises when a peaceful resolution is the goal.
A model for forecasting political choices and for explaining the perceptual conditions that lead to those choices is delineated. The model, based on the median voter theorem and on the axioms of expected utility maximization, is applied to the prospects for a multilateral peace conference in the Middle East. The analysis helps provide insights into the motivations behind recent actions by leaders in the Soviet Union, the United States, Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Israel.
By viewing multilateral negotiations in a rational choice context, it is possible to elucidate the contents of calculations that reflect decision makers' considerations if they are trying to do what they believe is in their best interest. By modeling the decision process and then using comparative statics simulations, it is also possible to discern when perceptions and reality are likely to deviate from each other and to gauge the hypothesized responses of all the actors to changed circumstances. In this way, the likely impact of Soviet moderation, Israeli intransigence, Jordanian vacillation, or U.S. intervention can be identified.
It is difficult to read both the theoretical literature in political science on the causes of war and historians' case studies of the origins of particular wars without being struck by the difference in their respective evaluations of the importance of domestic political factors. Whereas historians devote considerable attention to these variables, most political scientists minimize their importance. Domestic political variables are not included in any of the leading theories of the causes of war; instead, they appear only in a number of isolated hypotheses and in some empirical studies that are generally atheoretical and noncumulative. This gap is troubling and suggests that political scientists and historians who study war have learned little from each other. A greater recognition of the role of domestic factors by political scientists would increase the explanatory power of their theories and provide more useful conceptual frameworks for the historical analysis of individual wars.
This study takes a first step toward bridging this gap by examining some of the disparate theoretical literature on domestic politics and war. It examines the relationship between national attributes and war behavior, the relative likelihood of democratic and non-democratic regimes going to war, Marxist and liberal theories regarding the impact of economic structure, the influence of nationalism and public opinion, and the scapegoat hypothesis. First, however, this article takes a closer look at the different treatment of domestic sources of war by political scientists and historians.
Are there really lessons of the past? The past is certainly a source of knowledge, our only source of knowledge given the flow of time, but, strictly speaking, it does not teach lessons. By lessons I mean maxims for attaining particular outcomes in the present or future: for example, Si vis pacem, para helium, or it is better for a prince to be feared than loved. Insofar as these maxims seem to offer guidance for policymakers, they are usually psychological, not historical. They supposedly summarize human traits that persist regardless of changing historical contexts. Other examples might include the notion that appeasement encourages aggression or that “military decision makers will tend to overestimate the feasibility of an operational plan if a realistic assessment would require forsaking fundamental beliefs or values.” Identification of such allegedly constant traits was the goal of philosophical history and may have seemed an appropriate program for historians during the Enlightenment and their policy-studies heirs. Subsequent historians, however, have usually sought to describe changing societal contexts or outcomes.