Food and power: Agricultural policy under democracy and dictatorship

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Abstract

Political interventions in agricultural markets have significant effects on development outcomes. Although dictatorships have been found to follow urban-biased policies, which decrease the price of agricultural produce, this finding does not fully explain variation in agricultural policy across regime type. I argue that policy under autocracy is a function of the power of producers and consumers to organize collectively and threaten a regime, while democratic governments respond to electoral incentives for redistribution. I analyze policy outcomes in 56 countries between 1963 and 2002 and find that democracies increase returns to farmers compared to autocracies. However, autocracies provide greater levels of support to farmers when landholding inequality or income inequality is high. Urbanization is associated with lower rates of assistance to agriculture under dictatorship versus democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-293
Number of pages21
JournalComparative Politics
Volume49
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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