Thursday, May 09, 2013

Is Urbanization a Threat to Autocratic Regimes?

Interesting post - with references to China, and China's reluctance to allow for unfettered urbanization (WSJ):

Chinese leaders since Mao Zedong have been wary of letting China’s largest cities reach megacity proportion. The usual reason cited is the fear of turning Beijing, Shanghai and other such cities into Latin American-style slums.

But Ohio State University political scientist Jeremy Wallace says there may be another reason: regime survival. In a study of authoritarian regimes between 1946 and 2004 (pdf), he finds that “regimes with capital cities that dominate the urban landscape fail nearly four years sooner and face 60% greater death rates.”

Specifically, for 237 nondemocratic regimes he studied with densely packed cities, the average duration was 8.6 years and the annual regime “death rate” was 9.2%. The 198 authoritarian regimes with low levels of urban concentration lasted, on average, 12.4 years and had an average annual death rate of 5.6%.

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