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Refinancing the Rentier State: Welfare, Inequality, and Citizen Preferences toward Fiscal Reform in the Gulf Oil Monarchies

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Against the backdrop of fiscal reform efforts in Middle East oil producers, this article proposes a general framework for understanding how citizens relate to welfare benefits in the rentier state and then tests some observable implications using original survey data from the quintessential rentier state of Qatar. Using two novel choice experiments, we ask Qataris to choose between competing forms of economic subsidies and state spending, producing a clear and reliable ordering of welfare priorities. Expectations derived from the experiments about the individual-level determinants of rentier reform preferences are then tested using data from a follow-up survey. Findings demonstrate the importance of non-excludable public goods, rather than private patronage, for upholding the rentier bargain.
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Keywords: ARAB GULF STATES; EXPERIMENTAL METHODS; FI SCAL REFORM; MIDDLE EAST; RENTIER STATE; RESOURCE DEPENDENCE; SURVEY RESEARCH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2021

This article was made available online on June 11, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Refinancing the Rentier State: Welfare, Inequality, and Citizen Preferences toward Fiscal Reform in the Gulf Oil Monarchies".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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