Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Dimitar D. Gueorguiev


Authoritarian Regime, China, Cooptation, Distribution, Ruling Coalition

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This project explores how authoritarian regimes can meet the demands of both the ruling coalition and the public from a perspective of distributional politics. This challenge is particularly severe since authoritarian regimes face increasing pressure to expand public goods and welfare. This project proposes a theory of authoritarian distribution that addresses this challenge in the case of China. First, autocrats adopted a differentiated strategy of distribution. They allocate universalistic benefits that target the large group of people to the public while distributing the particularistic benefits, which is exclusively for a small and specific group of people, to the regime allies. Second, autocrats should offer compensation to the regime allies for their loss in the expansion of public welfare, at the expense of other public interests. Third, autocrats would create new benefits to the regime allies to compensate for their relative loss because their old privilege is no longer exclusives during the expansion of public welfare. This project utilized an original dataset of the People’s Congress, the budgeting and anti-corruption data at provincial level, and a qualitative case study of membership recruitment of the Communist Party of China to test the proposed theory. In general, this project explains how authoritarian regimes maintain balances between different demands of distribution for regime survival. It also contributes to the study of authoritarian politics by bridging the gap between the literature on cooptation and the literature on the loyalty of the ruling coalition, both of which are necessary and critical explanations on the survival of authoritarian regimes.


Open Access