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A Better Life for All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa

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  • Verena Kroth
  • Valentino Larcinese
  • Joachim Wehner

Abstract

Does democracy affect basic service delivery? If yes, who benefits, and which elements of democracy matter - enfranchisement, the liberalization of political organization, or both? In 1994, 19 million South Africans gained the right to vote. The previously banned African National Congress was elected promising "a better life for all". Using a difference-in-differences approach, we exploit heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across municipalities to evaluate how franchise extension affected household electrification. Our unique dataset combines nightlight satellite imagery, geo-referenced census data, and municipal election results from the 1990s. We include covariates, run placebo regressions, and examine contiguous census tracts. We find that enfranchisement increased electrification. In parts of the country where municipalities lacked distribution capacity, the national electricity company prioritized core constituencies of the ANC. The effect of democratization on basic services depends on the national government's ability to influence distribution at the local level.

Suggested Citation

  • Verena Kroth & Valentino Larcinese & Joachim Wehner, 2016. "A Better Life for All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 60, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:60
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/eopp/eopp60.pdf
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    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:117:y:2018:i:c:p:108-126 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pantelis Kammas & Vassilis Sarantides, 2019. "Democratisation and tax structure in the presence of home production: Evidence from the Kingdom of Greece," Working Papers 2019010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    3. Rohan Best & Paul J. Burke, 2017. "The Importance of Government Effectiveness for Transitions toward Greater Electrification in Developing Countries," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(9), pages 1-17, August.
    4. Faguet, Jean-Paul & Sánchez, Fabio & Villaveces, Marta-Juanita, 2017. "The paradox of land reform, inequality and development in Colombia," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69207, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    Keywords

    Democracy; Distributive politics; Electricity; South Africa;

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