Using data for 160 countries for the period 1963-2001, this paper examines the short-run relationship between economic growth and changes in national leader.
To address the potential endogeneity of economic growth, I use exogenous variation in commodity export prices, export partner incomes, precipitation, and temperature to instrument for a country’s rate of economic growth. The results indicate that more rapid economic growth increases the short-run likelihood that national leaders will retain their positions. The findings are similar for both democracies and autocracies and indicate that faster economic growth reduces the likelihoods of both regular leader exits and irregular leader exits such as coups. The results also suggest that stronger economic growth reduces the likelihood that national leaders employ oppressive tactics against opponents.