By Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith
Why do certain dictators survive while others fall? Throughout history, downtrodden citizens have tried to throw off the yoke of their oppressors, but revolutions, like those sweeping through the Arab world, are rare.
Despotic rulers stay in power by rewarding a small group of loyal supporters, often composed of key military officers, senior civil servants and family members or clansmen. A central responsibility of these loyalists is to suppress opposition to the regime. But they only carry out this messy, unpleasant task if they are well rewarded. Autocrats therefore need to ensure a continuing flow of benefits to their cronies.