a1 University of Washington
This article helps explain the variation in political turmoil observed in the MENA during the Arab Spring. The region’s monarchies have been largely spared of violence while the “republics” have not. A theory about how a monarchy’s political culture solves a ruler’s credible commitment problem explains why this has been the case. Using a panel dataset of the MENA countries (1950–2006), I show that monarchs are less likely than nonmonarchs to experience political instability, a result that holds across several measures. They are also more likely to respect the rule of law and property rights and grow their economies. Through the use of an instrumental variable that proxies for a legacy of tribalism, the time that has elapsed since the Neolithic Revolution weighted by Land Quality, I show that this result runs from monarchy to political stability. The results are also robust to alternative political explanations and country fixed effects.
Victor Menaldo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.