Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome

Weiffen, Brigitte (2008). Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome. World Development, 36(12) pp. 2586–2604.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2008.01.009

Abstract

From an international comparative perspective, the stability of autocratic regimes in the countries of the Gulf region is striking. This paper presents historical–cultural as well as economic explanations and proposes that the interaction of both factors constitutes a cultural-economic syndrome accounting for the persistence of authoritarianism. Macro-quantitative analyses demonstrate the significant influence of this syndrome, which operates through a mechanism of mutual reinforcement and substitution. Departing from this diagnosis, potential remedies are discussed: political and economic reform measures pursued in the 1990s are explored, and the Gulf monarchies are classified according to four ideal-typical combinations of reform strategies.

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