International Organization

Oil, Nontax Revenue, and the Redistributional Foundations of Regime Stability


Kevin M. Morrison


Nontax revenues make up a substantial amount of government revenue around the world, though scholars usually focus on individual sources of such revenue (for example, foreign aid and state-owned oil companies). Using a theory of regime change that builds on recent models of the redistributional foundations of dictatorships and democracies, I generate hypotheses regarding all nontax revenue and regime stability. I argue that an increase in nontax revenue should be associated with less taxation of elites in democracies, more social spending in dictatorships, and more stability for both regime types. I find support for all three of these hypotheses in a cross-sectional time-series analysis, covering all countries and years for which the necessary data are available. Significantly, I show that the particular source of nontax revenue does not make a difference: they all act similarly with regard to regime stability and the causal mechanisms.

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