He Made His Country Rich, but Something Has Gone Wrong With the System


Publish Date:
April 12, 2023
The New York Times
Related Person(s):
Related Organization(s):


While established democracies do better economically than autocracies overall, the handful of autocrats who focused on economic growth — rather than their own Swiss bank accounts — have managed to outperform fledgling democracies, according to Ronald Gilson, professor emeritus of law and business at Columbia University, who co-wrote a 2011 paper, “Economically Benevolent Dictators: Lessons for Developing Democracies.” Chile under Augusto Pinochet, South Korea under Park Chung-hee and China under Deng Xiaoping stand out as countries that achieved wholesale economic transformation, while weak democracies stagnated.

The paper, which was co-written by Curtis Milhaupt of Stanford Law School, spells out why benevolent authoritarians have an easier time plugging their countries into the global economy.

Read More