Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Natural Resources, Labor Force Participation, and Social Policy in Authoritarian Regimes
by Hong, Ji Yeon, Ph.D., New York University, 2014, 191; 3635161
Abstract (Summary)

How does revenue from natural resources affect social policies of authoritarian governments? In this dissertation, I examine the effects of natural resource endowments on various social policies in authoritarian regimes. Through theoretical and empirical analyses, I show that natural resource abundance, which generates large economic revenues without massive labor force participation, lowers the incentives of authoritarian leaders to invest in labor productivity, and thus reduces public spending for human capital development. The first chapter presents a theoretical argument that explains the linkage between the dictator's need for labor force participation in economic production, the potential political threat from citizens, and the level and the pattern of social welfare provision under authoritarian regime. The second chapter provides cross-national empirical analysis focusing on the role of natural resources, particularly oil, in the welfare politics in authoritarian states. Using a panel dataset of authoritarian regimes between 1972 and 2008, I find that abundance in fuel mineral resources like oil leads to significantly lower levels of social spending by the central governments of autocracies. The negative effects of oil are especially prominent concerning expenditures for public education and health. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that welfare benefits to citizens in oil-exporting authoritarian regimes are particularly vulnerable to changes in the price of oil: Government expenditures for public welfare decline even further when oil prices fall. The final chapter presents a sub-national study in People's Republic of China, where both resource-dependent and labor-dependent economic development have been implemented across regions under the control of the same central authoritarian regime. I argue that Chinese local leaders, whose political success depends on economic growth in their division, have fewer incentives to provide social services that enhance labor productivity when the local economy benefits from natural resource extraction. Using novel and detailed panel data at the prefecture-city level from 1992-2010, I find that an abundance of fuel mineral resources leads local governments to provide fewer public services that promote human capital development. I further find these negative effects to be stronger for oil-reliant cities in comparison to coal-producing cities, reflecting greater demand for labor participation in coal production.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Przeworski, Adam
Commitee: Dube, Oeindrila, Gilligan, Michael, Paik, Christopher, Stasavage, David
School: New York University
Department: Politics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, Public policy
Keywords: Authoritarian regimes, China, Labor productivity, Natural resources, Resource curse, Social policy
Publication Number: 3635161
ISBN: 978-1-321-16133-5
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