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Social Dictatorships: The Political Economy of the Welfare State in the Middle East and North Africa

Ferdinand Eibl (Lecturer in Political Economy, Lecturer in Political Economy, King's College London, UK)

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Oxford University Press
20 February 2020
Social welfare & social services; Political structures: totalitarianism & dictatorship; Political economy; Welfare economics
Why have social spending levels and social policy trajectories diverged so drastically across labour-abundant Middle Eastern and North African regimes? And how can we explain the marked persistence of spending levels after divergence? Using historical institutionalism and a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods Social Dictatorships: The Political Economy of the Welfare State in the Middle East and North Africa develops an explanation of social spending in authoritarian regimes. It emphasizes the importance of early elite conflict and attempts to form a durable support coalition under the constraints imposed by external threats and scarce resources.

Social Dictatorships utilizes two in-depth case studies of the political origins of the Tunisian and Egyptian welfare state to provide an empirical overview of how social policies have developed in the region, and to explain the marked differences in social policy trajectories. It follows a multi-level approach tested comparatively at the cross-country level and process-traced at micro-level by these case studies.
By:   Ferdinand Eibl (Lecturer in Political Economy Lecturer in Political Economy King's College London UK)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 160mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   704g
ISBN:   9780198834274
ISBN 10:   0198834276
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   20 February 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ferdinand Eibl is a Lecturer in Political Economy at King's College London. He was previously a Postdoctoral Research Officer at the London School of Economics, and his research focuses on the political economy of authoritatian rule in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular in the areas of distributive politics, cronyism, and the political economy of coup-proofing.

Reviews for Social Dictatorships: The Political Economy of the Welfare State in the Middle East and North Africa

When scholars mix qualitative and quantitative methods, one of them usually gets short-changed. Ferdinand Eibls book is a rare exception to this rule: his field research is of as high quality as his quantitative analysis. He has undertaken remarkable detective work through interviews with decision-makers and access to (now closed off) national archives, getting as close to elite decision-making as is humanly possible in authoritarian systems. At the same time, he has collected unique primary data to identify the long-term distributional consequences of these decisions across the MENA region. His findings are of great relevance for scholars of both authoritarianism and social policy. * Dan Slater, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, London School of Economics * So cial Dictatorships is remarkable for both its theoretical synthesis and its empirical sweep. Ambitiously drawing together insights from across the rational-choice and historical-institutionalist traditions, Ferdinand Eibl carefully develops and compellingly delivers the bold argument that welfare states in labor-abundant Middle Eastern dictatorships have only substantially expanded when conflicts among elites could neither be reconciled nor repressed. A monumental contribution to our knowledge of Middle Eastern political economy and the historical development of authoritarian welfare states. * Dan Slater, Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of Emerging Democracies, University of Michigan * In Social Dictatorships, Ferdinand Eibl makes a valuable contribution to studies of welfare regimes in developing countries and autocracies. Eibls logically rigorous explanation articulates the conditions under which authoritarian rulers develop broad support coalitions, which in turn incentivizes them to expand public services. A sophisticated combination of original quantitative and qualitative data and analyses provides ample evidence to support his nuanced arguments. As Eibl so convincingly shows, social dictators are not more benign and generous than their less generous counterparts, but their populations benefit from greater investment in social sectors. * Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Universi * Why do authoritarian regimes provide strikingly different levels of social welfare provision to their citizens and why does such variation persist over time? Focusing on the Middle Easts populous authoritarian regimes, this book offers a seminal take on this puzzle and offers an argument that is both theoretically rigorous and empirically rich. In doing so, the books relevance goes far beyond its stipulated focus on social welfare and the Middle East, and sheds new light on the everyday politics of authoritarian rule. This study offers the very best of political science and Middle Eastern studies and will serve as the gold standard against which future work on the subject will be judged. * Adeel Malik, Globe Fellow in the Economies of Muslim Societies and Associate Professor, University of Oxford *


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