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How Is Power Shared In Africa?

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  • Patrick Francois
  • Ilia Rainer
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the power sharing layout of national political elites in a panel of African countries, most of them autocracies. We present a model of coalition formation across ethnic groups and structurally estimate it employing data on the ethnicity of cabinet ministers since independence. As opposed to the view of a single ethnic elite monolithically controlling power, we show that African ruling coalitions are large and that political power is allocated proportionally to population shares across ethnic groups. This holds true even restricting the analysis to the subsample of the most powerful ministerial posts. We argue that the likelihood of revolutions from outsiders and the threat of coups from insiders are major forces explaining such allocations. Further, over-representation of the ruling ethnic group is quantitatively substantial, but not different from standard formateur premia in parliamentary democracies. We explore theoretically how proportional allocation for the elites of each group may still result in misallocations in the non-elite population.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18425.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18425

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  1. Yasutora Watanabe, 2008. "Ministerial Weights and Government Formation: Estimation Using a Bargaining Model," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 95-119, May.
  2. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
  3. Merlo, A., 1992. "Bargaining Over Governments in a Stochastic Environment," Working Papers, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University 92-55, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  4. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-50, November.
  5. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
  6. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  7. Jennifer Gandhi & Adam Przeworski, 2006. "Cooperation, Cooptation, And Rebellion Under Dictatorships," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, 03.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "Coalition Formation in Non-Democracies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 987-1009.
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Cited by:
  1. Dimico, Arcangelo, 2013. "Size Matters: The Effect of the Scramble for Africa on Informal Institutions and Development," MPRA Paper 54550, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 18 Mar 2014.

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