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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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    Cited by:

    1. Fuchs, Andreas & Dreher, Axel & Hodler, Roland & Parks, Bradley C. & Raschky, Paul, 2015. "Aid on Demand: African Leaders and the Geography of China s Foreign Assistance," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112838, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Robin Burgess & Remi Jedwab & Edward Miguel & Ameet Morjaria & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2015. "The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1817-1851, June.
    3. repec:bla:obuest:v:79:y:2017:i:3:p:291-318 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Masanori Mitsutsune & Takanori Adachi, 2014. "Estimating noncooperative and cooperative models of bargaining: an empirical comparison," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 669-693, September.
    5. Erik O. Kimbrough & Kevin Laughren & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2017. "War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends," Working Papers 17-13, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    6. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Putterman, Louis & Weil, David, 2016. "The Influence of Ancestral Lifeways on Individual Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 11366, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Pierre André & Paul Maarek & Fatoumata Tapo, 2018. "Ethnic Favoritism: Winner Takes All or Power Sharing? Evidence from school constructions in Benin," THEMA Working Papers 2018-03, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    8. Bluhm R & Thomsson K.M., 2015. "Ethnic divisions, political institutions and the duration of declines: A political economy theory of delayed recovery," MERIT Working Papers 003, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    9. De Luca, Giacomo & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Valsecchi, Michele, 2018. "Ethnic favoritism: An axiom of politics?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 115-129.
    10. Chris Bidner & Patrick Francois & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "A Theory of Minimalist Democracy," NBER Working Papers 20552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. van Besouw, Bram & Ansink, Erik & van Bavel, Bas, 2016. "The economics of violence in natural states," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 139-156.
    12. Nemera Mamo & Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2018. "Natural Resources and Political Patronage in Africa: An Ethnicity Level Analysis," Working Paper Series 0418, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    13. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Asongu Simplice, 2016. "State fragility, rent seeking and lobbying: evidence from African data," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 43(10), pages 1016-1030, October.
    14. repec:eee:ecolet:v:159:y:2017:i:c:p:78-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. James Fenske & Igor Zurimendi, 2017. "Oil and ethnic inequality in Nigeria," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 397-420, December.
    16. Andrew Dickens, 2017. "Ethnolinguistic Favoritism in African Politics," Working Papers 1702, Brock University, Department of Economics.
    17. 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.
    18. Bluhm, Richard & Thomsson, Kaj, 2015. "Ethnic divisions, political institutions and the duration of declines," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112863, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "The Dictator's Inner Circle," NBER Working Papers 20216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Andrea Guariso & Thorsten Rogall, 2017. "Rainfall Inequality, Political Power, and Ethnic Conflict in Africa," LICOS Discussion Papers 39117, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    21. 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).

    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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