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The Paradox of Power Reconsidered: A Theory of Political Regimes in Africa

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  • Jean-Paul Azam

Abstract

A typical pattern of wealth redistribution seems to prevail, in some African countries, between rich and poor ethno-regional groups. A contract-theoretic model is presented for shedding some light on this phenomenon. The government promises a transfer to its potential opponent in return for not engaging in a civil war. The latter may break out because of the imperfect credibility of the government's commitment. This increases the cost of the required transfer of wealth, and may make it unfeasible. The model determines whether a military regime or a redistributive state prevails in a peaceful equilibrium. This depends on two parameters: (i) the relative fighting efficiency and (ii) the relative productivity of the two groups. The social cost of the different regimes is then compared, and their implications for aid policy are discussed. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Paul Azam, 2006. "The Paradox of Power Reconsidered: A Theory of Political Regimes in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 26-58, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:1:p:26-58
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
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    13. Murshed, S Mansoob & Sen, Somnath, 1995. "Aid Conditionality and Military Expenditure Reduction in Developing Countries: Models of Asymmetric Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 498-509, March.
    14. Jean-Claude Berthélemy & Jean-Paul Azam & Stéphane Calipel & Claude Jessua, 1996. "Risque politique et croissance en Afrique," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 47(3), pages 819-829.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Andre & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2010. "Politics and the geographic allocation of public funds in a semi-democracy. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00962698, HAL.
    2. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2008. "The Incidence of Civil War: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Schroyen, Fred & Treich, Nicolas, 2016. "The power of money: Wealth effects in contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 46-68.
    4. Silve, Arthur & Verdier, Thierry, 2017. "A theory of regional conflict complexes," CEPR Discussion Papers 11915, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Azam, Jean-Paul & Thelen, Véronique, 2014. "Did the Aid Boom Pacify Sub-Saharan Africa?: Ex-Post Evaluation Using a Near-Identification Approach," TSE Working Papers 14-544, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised May 2017.
    6. André, Pierre & Mesplé-Somps, Sandrine, 2011. "The Allocation of Public Goods and National Elections in Ghana," MPRA Paper 29873, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12069 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ishihara Akifumi & Singh Prakarsh, 2016. "Concessions and Repression in Conflict," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 865-899, April.
    9. Azam, Jean-Paul, 2009. "Betting on Displacement: Oil, Violence, and the Switch to Civilian Rule in Nigeria," TSE Working Papers 09-034, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    10. Azam Jean-Paul, 2014. "The Birth of a Democracy: Homegrown Bicameralism in Somaliland," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(2), pages 1-22, April.
    11. Azam, Jean-Paul, 2010. "A State is Born: Transport Infrastructure and Democracy in Somaliland," IDEI Working Papers 668, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    12. Pierre André & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2013. "Sitting on the fence: Pork-barrels and democratization under threat of conflict. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," THEMA Working Papers 2013-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    13. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "Repression or Civil War?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 292-297, May.
    14. Pierre André & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2017. "Sitting on the fence: Pork - barrels and democratization under threat of conflict. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," Working Papers hal-01619605, HAL.
    15. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5746 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Frédéric Gaspart & Pierre Pecher, 2015. "Ethnic inclusiveness of the central state government and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2015011, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    17. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12022 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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