How does autocratic regime type influence scientific production? While history is full of notable examples of dictators cracking down on institutions of higher learning, we know little about the general patterns linking autocracy to scientific research. We propose what we call a ``security-tradeoff" argument to explain variation in scientific production across regime types; dictators must trade potential gains from science off against security concerns relating to free academies. We proceed to test implications of this argument in different datasets combining information on political regimes, global data on universities, and more than 20 million scientific publications from the Web of Science. Using a synthetic diff-in-diff framework, we find that autocracy depresses scientific output at the country level, and that this varies across disciplines. We also test implications at the subnational levels, employing geolocated publication data from more than 600 000 research institutions.
We provide the first study of worker mobilization on local variation in poor relief generosity in Norwegian municipalities between 1900 and 1922. A period marked with industrialization but before the advent of the major welfare state programs. Poor relief remained the primary way for workers and old to receive aid during periods of joblessness or old-age. The poor relief system was highly decentralized, meaning that national legislation rarely reflected conditions on the ground. Contrary to existing class-based theories of working class mobilization, we argue worker mobilization was fundamental to explaining poor relief generosity in this period. Using original geo-coded micro data on XX Norwegian municipalities, we find strong effects of worker mobilization in the form of strikes on poor relief generosity. Our results are strengthened by a set of placebo-models. We discuss our findings in relation to the literature on welfare state development and class-theories of worker mobilization.
Theories of autocratic co-option rest on at least two central, but contested assumptions: That legislators are sufficiently empowered to demand concessions from the president, and that even unfree elections are competitive enough to discipline political elites. In the case of public investments in non-democratic countries and developing democracies, I find support for both of these crucial assumptions. Using data on georeferenced investment projects across Africa, I find that these investments are more in line with the president's preferences prior to presidential elections, but more in line with legislators' preferences close to legislative elections. Taken together, the findings strongly suggest that legislators in such systems do have the power to demand concessions from president, and that unfree elections can discipline political elites.
The causal relationship between regime type and public services has been subject to decades of scholarly debate and numerous empirical investigations. Different theories make different predictions on how institutions will lead political elites to make different economic prioritizations. A majority of the empirical proofs rely on macroeconomic data that are self-reported by governments. But these data are known to suffer from a type of measurement bias that is especially problematic when answering questions about regimes and leaders' incentives. Using novel data on the quality of postal services which does not suffer from any of these validity-issues, I show that postal services in democracies deliver significantly better services, responding to somewhere between 20 - 40 percentage points more letters. The effect is not driven by any single country or region, is not driven by different bureaucratic capacity or economic development, and can not be explained by countries' historical legacies.