'The Price of Cooperation: How Authoritarian States Retain Control'

To understand state control, we need to consider both citizens’ actions and regime response. This paper uses an original dataset containing detailed information from a sample of almost 300 informants to East Germany’s Ministry for State Security (Stasi) to shed light on the way in which an authoritarian system can use covert repression to counter the effects of a destabilizing process. I consider both the supply of potential informants, arising from the wider society, and the Stasi’s demand for them. A destabilizing process such as exposure to West German TV (WGTV) shifts in the supply for informants, and shifts out the demand. As a result, the price offered for informant services increases. The data strongly confirms this hypothesis. The equilibrium effect on the number of informants is theoretically indeterminate.