Which Political System Maximizes Utility – a Democracy or an Autocracy?

By Ganesh R. Kumaraguru. Stanford University. 

There is a growing debate in the 21st century as to whether democracies outperform certain autocracies in increasing a citizen’s utility. While it is known that the worst autocracies are far worse for a citizen’s utility than the worst democracies (genocide and famine compared to slow decisions and a lack of progress), the comparison between autocracies with benevolent leaders and democracies with a similar income level is questioned. This paper studies the way autocracies and democracies pursue economic growth and the availability of necessities, in addition to analyzing the associated costs and benefits that arise from the method of decision making. It concludes that there are several variables that affect whether an autocracy increases utility more than a democracy or vice versa with a country’s income level, prosperity, information symmetry and population’s education level amongst the most crucial.

Read the full paper here.

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