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

  • Jean-Paul Azam

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.

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Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 26-58

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:1:p:26-58
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  1. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-39, September.
  2. Grossman, Herschel I, 1994. "Production, Appropriation, and Land Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 705-12, June.
  3. Horowitz, Andrew W, 1993. "Time Paths of Land Reform: A Theoretical Model of Reform Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1003-10, September.
  4. Robert H. Bates, 2000. "Ethnicity and Development in Africa: A Reappraisal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 131-134, May.
  5. Jean-Paul Azam & Jean-Claude Berthélemy & Stéphane Calipel, 1996. "Risque politique et croissance en Afrique," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 47(3), pages 819-829.
  6. Neary, Hugh M, 1997. " A Comparison of Rent-Seeking Models and Economic Models of Conflict," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3-4), pages 373-88, December.
  7. Noh, Suk Jae, 1999. " A General Equilibrium Model of Two Group Conflict with Endogenous Intra-group Sharing Rules," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 251-67, March.
  8. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
  9. Svensson, Jakob, 1997. "When is foreign aid policy credible : aid dependence and conditionality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1740, The World Bank.
  10. Azam, Jean-Paul & Mesnard, Alice, 2003. " Civil War and the Social Contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 455-75, June.
  11. Jean-Paul Azam, 2001. "The Redistributive State and Conflicts in Africa," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 38(4), pages 429-444, July.
  12. Azam, Jean-Paul, 1995. " How to Pay for the Peace? A Theoretical Framework with References to African Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 83(1-2), pages 173-84, April.
  13. Hugh Neary, 1997. "A comparison of rent-seeking models and economic models of conflict," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 373-388, December.
  14. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-88, December.
  15. Azam, Jean-Paul & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 2003. "Contracting for aid," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 25-58, February.
  16. repec:cai:recosp:reco_p1996_47n3_0819 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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.
  18. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  19. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
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