An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on Democracies and Dictatorships

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on Democracies and Dictatorships and consider these questions.

1. Mesquita draws a distinction between an “electorate” and a “selectorate”. What is this distinction, and is it important for public policy?

2. What is the “natural resource curse”, and why does Mesquita believe foreign aid is analogous to this “curse”? What does he describe as “political incentives”?

3. According to Mesquita, how does war?both the likelihood of its initiation and its continuation?differ between democracies and dictatorships?

4. Mesquita argues that we incorrectly label many countries liberal democracies when such a label is inappropriate. What are the three questions Mesquita says you should ask in trying to determine if a nation is really a democracy?

5. What motivation(s) did China have to undertake market-oriented reforms, according to Mesquita?

6. Mesquita and interviewer Roberts disagree about how easy it is for the Chinese government to control its citizens today. Who makes the stronger case? Why?

7. Mesquita suggests there is a “moment of opportunity” in every country to change its policies to effect a structural change. When is this moment? Why does he believe Cuba is entering such a transition period? Do you agree?