The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
A country’s judiciary, police, and security forces are essential to protect the State from external aggression. By virtue of the State’s monopoly of coercion, they maintain a stable legal framework and the safety of persons and property. All these activities enhance a society’s productivity, but they also sustain the particular political regime—and its redistributive ethic—in power. They absorb resources, but they also waste them, since security forces tend to be rent-seekers. This paper analyzes both the productive and the unproductive side of security provision and shows that the balance depends on the nature of the political regime.