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“Storm autocracies”: Islands as natural experiments

Rahman, Muhammad Habibur; Anbarci, Nejat; Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet A.


Mehmet A. Ulubaşoğlu


We exploit the exogenous variation in the timing and intensity of storms in island countries to estimate the storms' effect on the extent of democracy. Using a rich panel dataset spanning the period 1950–2020, our difference-in-differences estimations, which allow multiple treatments over time, indicate that storms trigger autocratic tendencies in island countries by reducing the Polity2 score by about four percent in the following year. These findings resonate with our simple dynamic game-theoretical model, which predicts that governments move towards autocracy by placating citizens with post-disaster assistance in response to citizens’ insurgency threat in the absence of relief, giving rise to the political regime of “storm autocracies”. Our results survive a battery of robustness analyses, randomization tests, potential spatial biases, and other falsification and placebo checks.


Rahman, M. H., Anbarci, N., & Ulubaşoğlu, M. A. (2022). “Storm autocracies”: Islands as natural experiments. Journal of Development Economics, 159, Article 102982.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 19, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date Jan 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 20, 2024
Journal Journal of Development Economics
Print ISSN 0304-3878
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 159
Article Number 102982
Public URL


This file is under embargo until Oct 20, 2024 due to copyright restrictions.

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