The Logic of Political Survival

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The Logic of Political Survival is a 2003 non-fiction book co-written by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson, and James D. Morrow, published by MIT Press. It discusses the selectorate theory of politics.

Paul Warwick of Simon Fraser University wrote that the book is "an extraordinary attempt to answer some very big questions" and "much more than its title suggests" due to its incorporation of other elements related to war, economics, and nation-building.[1] Harvey Starr of the University of South Carolina wrote that due to the copious amounts of material analyzed and presented regarding comparative politics and international relations, it is "Not a quick or easy read".[2] Stephen Knack of the World Bank described it as an "ambitious work", with the concepts of the selectorate and "winning coalition" being the work's "novel contribution".[3]


Each author is in the political science profession.[3]


The authors discuss Hume's Discourses from Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary and Leviathan and decide that the philosophy in Discourses results in better governance. The book includes three parts, with each consecutive one discussing theories of governance, an analysis of how the selectorate model can determine in advance a result, and possible impacts regarding politics and international relations, respectively.[4]


Dale S. Mineshima of the University of Limerick concluded that the book is "well-written",[5] and "poses some interesting points to be further developed".[6] In regards to the latter, due to the potential further research questions posed, Mineshima described it as a "work still in progress".[5] He stated that the usage of mathematical models may intimidate people not with a background in that topic,[6] and that references to other chapters may reducing "clarity" while also "providing continuity"; he argued the latter was therefore "both a strength and a weakness".[7]

Starr stated that the book is "a worthwhile enterprise indeed."[8]

Warwick wrote that " scholars and leaders alike would do well to consider" the "agenda" in the book's last chapter.[9] Warwick stated that some of the experimentation in the book "seems quite perverse" although "it is only to be expected that occasionally fails to convince" due to the "massiveness" of how the book analyzes its information.[9]

Knack wrote that "Cross-country regressions can be informative when carefully designed and interpreted. Given the comparative advantages of the authors, however, this book would have benefited from more Sparta and less statistics."[10]

Choice Reviews concluded that the work is "Pathbreaking and required reading."[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Warwick, p. 1035.
  2. ^ Starr, p. 608.
  3. ^ a b Knack, p. 1068.
  4. ^ a b Choice reviews.
  5. ^ a b Mineshima, p. 1158.
  6. ^ a b Mineshima, p. 1159.
  7. ^ Mineshima, p. 1158–1159.
  8. ^ Starr, p. 609.
  9. ^ a b Warwick, p. 1036.
  10. ^ Knack, p. 1070.


  1. Knack, Stephen (December 2005). "The logic of political survival". Journal of Economic Literature. Nashville, TN: American Economic Association. 43 (4): 1068–1070. JSTOR 4129387.
  2. Harvey, Starr (May 2005). "The Logic of Political Survival (Book Review)". The Journal of Politics. Southern Political Science Association. 67 (2): 607–609. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2508.2005.00331_7.x. ISSN 0022-3816. JSTOR 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2005.00331_7.x.
  3. Mineshima, Dale (August 2005). "The Logic of Political Survival". The Journal of Development Studies. 41 (6): 1157–1159. ISSN 0022-0388.
  4. Warwick, Paul (December 2004). "The Logic of Political Survival". Canadian Journal of Political Science. 37 (4): 1035–1036. doi:10.1017/S0008423904310218. ISSN 0008-4239. JSTOR 25165749.
  5. "The Logic of political survival". Choice Reviews Online. 42 (1): 42-0583–42-0583. 1 September 2004. doi:10.5860/choice.42-0853. ISSN 0009-4978.