"Get Out: How Authoritarian Governments Decide Who Emigrates"

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693 Kerr Hall

Even the most authoritarian governments allow some citizens to leave. How do they decide who can leave? In this paper, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at UCLA Margaret Peters argues that authoritarian leaders face trade-offs when deciding which individuals should be allowed to leave. On the plus side, autocrats can rid their state of potential challengers and oppositions group supporters. Further, there may be economic benefits due to expropriation of emigrants' property and/or no longer needing to provide social welfare benefits to them, remittances, and, in some cases payment, by democratic governments for the release of some citizens. On the negative side, emigrants may represent a loss of human capital; signal the level of opposition to others; and spread norms of democracy back through social remittances. Associate Professor Peters proposes to examine how autocrats balance these trade-offs using archival data from the German Democratic Republic.

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