Social Dictatorships: The Political Economy of the Welfare State in the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford University Press, 2020)
Why have social spending levels and social policy trajectories writ large diverged so drastically across labour-abundant MENA regimes? And how can we explain the marked persistence of spending levels after divergence? Using historical institutionalism and a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, the book manuscript develop an explanation of social spending in authoritarian regimes that emphasises the importance of early elite conflict and their attempt to form a durable support coalition under the constraints imposed by external threats and scarce resources. The study also follows a multi-level approach in that the viability of the argument is tested comparatively at the cross-country level and process-traced at the micro-level in two in-depth case studies of Tunisia and Egypt. Part of the research project was the compilation of an original dataset of welfare spending that spans the period from 1950 until present.