Friday, December 07, 2007

Maybe Chicks Just Dig Uniforms; Mirrored Sunglasses are HOT!

All in the family: why non-democratic leaders have more children

Dustin Beckett & Gregory Hess
Economics of Governance, January 2008, Pages 65-85

Economists have come to learn that politics matters. But survival matters the most to those involved in politics. We provide a theory whereby non-benevolent, non-democratic leaders increase their expected family size to raise the likelihood that a child will be a match at continuing the regime's survival. As a consequence, having a larger family size raises the non-democratic leader's expected rents that they can exploit from the citizenry. In contrast, democratic leaders have a lower desire to appropriate rents from the citizenry, and therefore have a diminished desire to have additional children for these purposes. We construct a data set of the number of children of country leaders as of August 31, 2005. We find that in a sample of 221 country leaders, fully non-democratic leaders have approximately 1.5-2.5 more actual children as compared to if they are fully democratic. This empirical relationship is established controlling for a full array of country specific as well as individual specific variables. Our finding also continues to hold when using alternative measures of family size.

(Nod to KL)


Ralph Phelan said...

Correlation is not causation.

Evolutionary psychology would suggest that maybe the (conscious or unconscious) reason people put in the effort and risk involved in becoming a dictator is for the possibility of getting to widely distribute copies of their genes.

Michael said...

Yes, I think that Ralph has the truth here.

Even if the essential facts of the study are correct, I am pretty sure that other factors are at work besides the minor economic point.

If you WANT to be a dictator, you also are likely to want to be doing the nasty pretty often. Just think, the two most dictatorial families in the U.S. are the Kennedies and Clintons. Just THINK how many little babies are running around with THOSE genes, and various mothers.

MC said...

"controlling for a full array of country specific as well as individual specific variables"

Of course, I can't be bothered to read the article (but I wonder whether that sets me apart from other commenters, readers, or the original blogger?).

To the point: are there asymmetries between the likelihood of concealing offspring between the two groups, and was this effect controlled for? How would the authors know? To cite just one example, Francois Mitterand's (adult) daughter became known only at his funeral.

Prison Rodeo said...

Actually, this was done a few years ago, using U.S. Supreme Court justices as well:

(pp. 19-21). Not sayin' I know the author, but it seems pretty compelling to me...