The Origins of Coercive Institutions in the Middle East: Preliminary Evidence from Egypt, with Allison Hartnett and Elizabeth Nugent
Robust coercive apparatuses are credited for the Middle East’s uniquely persistent authoritarianism, but the origins of these institutions are not well-understood. In this paper, we present an original theory regarding the origins of coercive institutions in contemporary authoritarian regimes like those in the Middle East. We argue that the instruments of authoritarian coercion are shaped by colonial-era institution building, which constrains leaders’ choice set after independence. We support our theory with preliminary budgetary and employment data from 1880 to 1960 in Egypt. Our results demonstrate significant institutional continuity through the 1952 Free Officers Coup that liberated Egypt from British influence.