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How Is Power Shared in Africa?

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  • Patrick Francois
  • Ilia Rainer
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Is African politics characterized by concentrated power in the hands of a narrow group (ethnically determined) that then fluctuates from one extreme to another via frequent coups? Employing data on the ethnicity of cabinet ministers since independence, we show that African ruling coalitions are surprisingly 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 coup threats from insiders are major forces explaining allocations within these regimes. Alternative allocation mechanisms are explored. Counterfactual experiments that shed light on the role of Western policies in affecting African national coalitions and leadership group premia are performed.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2015. "How Is Power Shared in Africa?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 465-503, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:83:y:2015:i::p:465-503
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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