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“Identifying Ideologues: A Global Dataset on Political Leaders, 1945-2020”

Abstract: Researchers have long studied how the ideology of political leaders affects policymaking and social welfare. The limited coverage of existing cross-country ideology datasets, however, has meant that researchers have mainly focused on OECD countries. This letter therefore presents the Global Leader Ideology dataset, which vastly expands the scope of previous datasets by classifying chief executives as leftist, centrist, rightist, or non-ideological in 182 countries annually from 1945 or independence to 2020. The letter describes the dataset’s contents and coding, compares it to existing datasets, and illustrates its uses by exploring how the ideologies of political leaders differ around the world and over time. The letter thereby outlines a research agenda on the global causes of chief executives’ ideologies, and their effects on policies and socioeconomic outcomes. (published, British Journal of Political Science)
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“Coups and their Leaders: A New Comprehensive Dataset, 1950-2020”

​(with Tanja Eschenauer-Engler)

Abstract: All coups seek to topple the political leadership, but they differ in terms of their leaders. While soldiers spearhead a majority of coups, a small number is led by civilians. And whereas high-ranking officers are the largest group among coup leaders, mid- and low-ranking soldiers account for a substantial share of putsches. Several datasets have recently offered data on the identity and political aims of coup leaders, to study the origin and outcome of different types of coups. However, these datasets have important limitations in their scope and how they address differing organizational structures of militaries across countries and time. This article therefore introduces a novel dataset on the identity of the leaders of 474 coups from 1950 to 2020 that distinguishes between coups led by civilians and military officers, as well as between coups by junior, mid-ranking, and senior officers. We discuss how the dataset complements previous data, present patterns across time and space, and show that successful and failed coups by senior, mid-ranking, and junior officers entail different prospects for post-coup democratization. The article underlines the importance for refined empirical measures and theoretical arguments in coup research. (published, European Political Science)

"Where Ideology Matters: Evidence from a Global Analysis of Market Intervention"

Abstract: Whether leaders and parties that govern make a difference is of fundamental importance to politics. A vast social-science literature argues that the ideological orientation of governments matters for policymaking, but this research has focused on OECD countries. This narrow focus reflects a lack of data as well as common assumptions that political institutions in non-OECD countries extinguish any effect of government ideology. This paper revisits existing assumptions about the importance of ideology using an original ideology dataset of 182 countries since 1945. Looking at market intervention policies, difference-in-differences estimates provide robust evidence that government ideology matters for some tools of market intervention globally, that it matters for non-OECD countries, and that political institutions do not condition its effects as presumed. These findings have implications for the studies of partisan politics, political institutions, and politics in young democracies and non-democracies. (under review)

“Ideologues and Redistribution: Social Service Provision in Democracies and Dictatorships”

(with Tobias Rommel)

Abstract: Governments’ efforts to provide social services to their citizens markedly differ around the globe. While highly influential theories of redistributive conflict link these differences to diverging political institutions, especially the regime type, empirical evidence for them is mixed. I contend that this is in part because the economic interests of governments do not neatly map onto political institutions and propose instead to distinguish governments based on their ideological orientation. Leveraging an original dataset on the economic ideology of chief executives in 182 countries from 1945 to 2019, I find that leftist governments provide more equal access to the welfare state and education than rightist governments across regime types. I further demonstrate that government ideology is more robustly associated with redistribution in dictatorships than in democracies, possibly because executive constraints are weaker. This study has implications for our understanding of redistributive conflict, partisan politics, and the politics in democracies and dictatorships.

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