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


  • Azam, Jean-Paul


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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Suggested Citation

  • Azam, Jean-Paul, 2003. "The Paradox of Power Reconsidered: A Theory of Political Regimes in Africa," IDEI Working Papers 233, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:573

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Azam, Jean-Paul & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 2003. "Contracting for aid," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 25-58, February.
    3. Hugh Neary, 1997. "A comparison of rent-seeking models and economic models of conflict," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 373-388, December.
    4. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-739, September.
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    6. repec:fth:oxesaf:2001-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jean-Claude Berthélemy & Jean-Paul Azam & Stéphane Calipel & Claude Jessua, 1996. "Risque politique et croissance en Afrique," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 47(3), pages 819-829.
    8. Svensson, Jakob, 2000. "When is foreign aid policy credible? Aid dependence and conditionality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 61-84, February.
    9. 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 1275-1288, December.
    10. Neary, Hugh M, 1997. "A Comparison of Rent-Seeking Models and Economic Models of Conflict," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3-4), pages 373-388, December.
    11. Bourguignon, Francois & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "Oligarchy, democracy, inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 285-313, August.
    12. Tony Addison & S. Mansoob Murshed, 2002. "Credibility and Reputation in Peacemaking," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 39(4), pages 487-501, July.
    13. 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 1003-1010, September.
    14. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
    15. Ola Olsson & Heather Congdon Fors, 2004. "Congo: The Prize of Predation," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 321-336, May.
    16. 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 251-267, March.
    17. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
    18. 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.
    19. Azam, Jean-Paul & Mesnard, Alice, 2003. "Civil War and the Social Contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 455-475, June.
    20. Robert H. Bates, 2000. "Ethnicity and Development in Africa: A Reappraisal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 131-134, May.
    21. 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 173-184, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2008. "The Incidence of Civil War: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12069 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Azam, Jean-Paul, 2009. "Betting on Displacement: Oil, Violence, and the Switch to Civilian Rule in Nigeria," TSE Working Papers 09-034, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Pierre Andre & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2010. "Politics and the geographic allocation of public funds in a semi-democracy. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00962698, HAL.
    5. Azam, Jean-Paul, 2010. "A State is Born: Transport Infrastructure and Democracy in Somaliland," IDEI Working Papers 668, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    6. Pierre André & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2013. "Sitting on the fence: Pork-barrels and democratization under threat of conflict. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," THEMA Working Papers 2013-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    7. Azam Jean-Paul, 2014. "The Birth of a Democracy: Homegrown Bicameralism in Somaliland," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(2), pages 1-22, April.
    8. Schroyen, Fred & Treich, Nicolas, 2016. "The power of money: Wealth effects in contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 46-68.
    9. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5746 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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).
    11. Silve, Arthur & Verdier, Thierry, 2017. "A theory of regional conflict complexes," CEPR Discussion Papers 11915, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Azam, Jean-Paul & Thelen, Véronique, 2014. "Did the Aid Boom Pacify Sub-Saharan Africa?: Ex-Post Evaluation Using a Near-Identification Approach," TSE Working Papers 14-544, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised May 2017.
    13. André, Pierre & Mesplé-Somps, Sandrine, 2011. "The Allocation of Public Goods and National Elections in Ghana," MPRA Paper 29873, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Ishihara Akifumi & Singh Prakarsh, 2016. "Concessions and Repression in Conflict," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 865-899, April.
    15. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "Repression or Civil War?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 292-297, May.
    16. Pierre André & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2017. "Sitting on the fence: Pork - barrels and democratization under threat of conflict. The case of Ghana, 1996 - 2004," Working Papers hal-01619605, HAL.
    17. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12022 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa


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