Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2019

Thesis Director

Mukti P. Upadhyay

Thesis Committee Member

Teshome Abebe

Thesis Committee Member

Ali R. Moshtagh


There are many factors that influence whether a political leader exits out of office or remains in power. In this thesis, we evaluate the impact of one important factor, income inequality, on the survival prospects of the leader using data for 152 countries for the period 1962 - 2015. We use a linear probability model, a logit model, and a Cox Proportional Hazard Model, all of which indicate that higher income inequality increases the probability of leader survival. To address the potential endogeneity of income inequality, I use a simultaneous equations model and the results hold. The results are also robust to controlling for a host of leader-, party-, and country-level variables, as well as the bimodal nature of income inequality. Evidence is also given for polity type, which is the degree to which a country is democratic, as an important factor in simultaneously determining income inequality and political survival.