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"Successful coup d'état means higher economic growth rate in poor countries" [PhD Shu Yu, 27 November]

20 November 2014

Do political leaders matter? For instance, does an extra-legal leadership change affect economic growth? And does political stability result in more educated leaders? These are some of the questions dealt with in the thesis of Shu Yu.

Shu concludes that in the decade after a coup d’état, the economic growth rate in countries where a coup d’état caused a leadership change is significantly different from the economic growth rate in countries where a coup attempt failed. The richer countries have lower growth rates while the poorest countries have higher growth rates.

To examine whether political stability influences leader selection, Shu builds a theoretical model to show that it is optimal to choose a highly educated leader with less military skills as the regime stabilizes. Empirical evidence shows support for the model’s prediction.

Shu shows that political leader survival also depends on leaders themselves, especially their educational and military background. She derives the proposition that, under a revolutionary threat, economic competence can be detrimental to political survival, but that the effect decreases as the winning coalition grows. Moreover, the reverse holds for military attainment. Empirical evidence supports the proposition when using data for the period 1875-2004.

Shu also examines the impact of leaders on foreign policies. Focusing on countries’ alignment with the US at the UNGA for the period 1970-2011, she finds that foreign-educated leaders need to signal loyalty to their own state by voting significantly less in line with the US than domestically educated leaders.


Shu Yu will be awarded a PhD in economics and business on 27 November (14.30h, Academy Building). Thesis supervisor is prof. dr. J. (Jakob) de Haan and the thesis title: Leaders, regimes, and political instability.

Last modified:06 January 2017 2.57 p.m.
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