Unpacking Autocracy: Political Regimes and IMF Program Participation

Matthew D. Fails, Byungwon Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Why do some countries participate in IMF programs while others refuse to do so? We suggest an answer to the question by unpacking one side of the typical democracy–autocracy dichotomy. Specifically, we utilize the growing literature on the varieties of authoritarianism to develop an argument linking the different incentives and constraints that leaders in party-based, personalist, and military regimes face when considering whether to sign agreements with the IMF. Empirically, we demonstrate that distinguishing among autocracies uncovers important variations in the sensitivity of such regimes to the political costs incurred by IMF participation. Party-based autocracies, for instance, respond to both sovereignty costs and the benefits of program participation during severe economic crises. Personalist regimes, however, are not sensitive to the sovereignty costs incurred with IMF participation and thus only participate when doing so provides needed revenue during economic crises. The unique features of military juntas, by contrast, suggests that such regimes are not sensitive to either of these political costs and thus do not respond to economic crises in the same way as their autocratic counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-132
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

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© , Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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