>Lee Kuan Yew gained very strong individual power over a small country, and unlike the hundreds of times in the history of Earth when that went horribly wrong, Lee Kuan Yew happened to know some economics.
Actually, this isn’t a one-off. Monarchies in general achieve superior economic results (https://twin.sci-hub.cc/6b4aea0cae94d2f4fd6c2e459dab6881/besley2017.pdf ):
>We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. [...] The logic that we have exploited is essentially that put forward in Olson (1993) who emphasized that hereditary rule can provide a means improving inter-temporal incentives in government.
I’m not super convinced. Their non-empirical part seems tautological, and their empirical part seems like they kind of tried to separate between the subgroups of democracy and “junta leader of the month” by calling one “strong executive constraints” and the other “weak executive constraints,” but it’s not obvious that you’d expect this method of separation to work (though not that when they did split the data this way, the “democracy-esque” subgroup had the best results). Not only are natural experiments thin on the ground here, but it’s very hard to control for confounders, and I see no reason to expect they succeeded.
Also, they cited Thomas Paine as from 1976.