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Political successions and the growth of government


  • Mwangi Kimenyi
  • William Shughart


During the first seven years (1979–1985) of Kenya's second head of state, the process of establishing a stable supporting coalition was accompanied by rapid increases in government spending. As evidenced by continued increase in the size of the cabinet as announced in early 1988, the process of forming a stable coalition may not be complete. The evidence provided in this paper shows that the process of coalition formation following leadership transition in limited autocracies leads to increases in the size of government. This provides strong support for Tullock's suggestion regarding the importance of stability in autocratic and limited autocratic governments. Although we would expect our results to hold for other countries, generalization of the growth-of-government hypothesis should be done with caution for several reasons. First, we do not think that this phenomenon would take place in political successions resulting from a military coup. In that type of succession, the new leader is likely to eliminate the supporters of the disposed leader and replace them with members of his coalition. Secondly, many political successions are accompanied by changes in ideology which may involve movement to more free markets and therefore smaller governments, or movement towards more planned economies which would lead to larger governments. Such changes in the size of government resulting from the ideological preferences of leaders may be difficult to isolate from those that are due to strategic coalition formation. Finally, the interest-group behavior of tribal coalitions in Kenya may have important effects on the size of the government that may not exist in other countries. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Suggested Citation

  • Mwangi Kimenyi & William Shughart, 1989. "Political successions and the growth of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(2), pages 173-179, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:62:y:1989:i:2:p:173-179
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00124333

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    2. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-287, October.
    3. Albert Breton, 1974. "The economic theory of representative government: A reply," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 129-133, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2006. "Ethnicity, Governance and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 62-99, April.
    2. Mwangi Kimenyi & William Shughart, 2010. "The political economy of constitutional choice: a study of the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 1-27, March.
    3. Jørgen Andersen, 2012. "Costs of taxation and the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 83-115, October.

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