The number of autocratic regimes of the past from 1950 (or so) to 2005 (or so) is in dispute. There are 700 heads of state in years in which these nation-states are coded as autocratic. But of course, a change of leadership does not necessarily imply a change of regime. When power passes between members of the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, no one imagines that the regime has collapsed. The same is the case in Mexico under the PRI, where presidents served but a single term. Delimiting regimes is not simple. Geddes-Wright codings of autocracies lead one to imagine a world of only 200 regimes, whereas a broader coding such as mine sees twice as many.

It matters.

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