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Critical Junctures: Independence Movements and Democracy in Africa


  • Wantchekon, Leonard

    (Princeton University)

  • Garcia-Ponce, Omar

    (New York University)


We show that current levels of democracy in Africa are linked to the nature of its independence movements. Using different measures of political regimes and historical data on anti-colonial movements, we find that countries that experienced rural insurgencies tend to have autocratic regimes, while those that faced urban protests tend to have more democratic institutions. We provide evidence for causality in this relationship by using rough terrain as an instrument for rural insurgency, and by performing a sensitivity analysis. Finally, the evidence suggests that the adoption of rural insurgency perpetuated the use of violence as a form of conflict resolution.

Suggested Citation

  • Wantchekon, Leonard & Garcia-Ponce, Omar, 2013. "Critical Junctures: Independence Movements and Democracy in Africa," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 173, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:173

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elias Papaioannou & Gregorios Siourounis, 2008. "Democratisation and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1520-1551, October.
    2. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2012. "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 20-36, February.
    3. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
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    5. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-842, June.
    7. Jess Benhabib & Alejandro Corvalen & Mark M. Spiegel, 2011. "Reestablishing the income-democracy nexus," Working Paper Series 2011-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    8. Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Ward, Michael D., 2006. "Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(04), pages 911-933, October.
    9. Timothy G. Conley & Christian B. Hansen & Peter E. Rossi, 2012. "Plausibly Exogenous," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 260-272, February.
    10. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
    11. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A. & Yared, Pierre, 2009. "Reevaluating the modernization hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1043-1058, November.
    12. Dunning, Thad, 2004. "Conditioning the Effects of Aid: Cold War Politics, Donor Credibility, and Democracy in Africa," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 409-423, April.
    13. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Africa; Colonial History; Critical Junctures; Democracy; Modernization.;

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