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New Tools for the Analysis of Political Power in Africa

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  • Ilia Rainer
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

The study of autocracies and weakly institutionalized countries is plagued by scarcity of information about the relative strength of different players within the political system. This paper presents novel data on the composition of government coalitions in a sample of fifteen post-colonial African countries suited to this task. We emphasize the role of the executive branch as the central fulcrum of all national political systems in our sample, especially relative to other institutional bodies such as the legislative assembly. Leveraging on the impressive body of work documenting the crucial role of ethnic fragmentation as a main driver of political and social friction in Africa, the paper further details the construction of ethnic composition measures for executive cabinets. We discuss how this novel source of information may help shed light on the inner workings of typically opaque African political elites.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2012. "New Tools for the Analysis of Political Power in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18424
    Note: POL DEV
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2000. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521794497.
    2. James M. Snyder Jr. & Michael M. Ting & Stephen Ansolabehere, 2005. "Legislative Bargaining under Weighted Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 981-1004, September.
    3. Daniel N. Posner, 2004. "Measuring Ethnic Fractionalization in Africa," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 48(4), pages 849-863, October.
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    1. 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 2015-003, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. 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 Business School.
    3. Nan Gao & Pinghan Liang & Lixin Colin Xu, 2021. "Power struggle and pork barrel politics in authoritarian countries: Evidence from China," Economics of Transition and Institutional Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 29(1), pages 123-150, January.
    4. Bluhm, Richard & Thomsson, Kaj, 2015. "Ethnic divisions, political institutions and the duration of declines," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112863, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Adlai Newson & Francesco Trebbi, 2018. "Authoritarian elites," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 51(4), pages 1088-1117, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Nemera Gebeyehu Mamo, 2018. "Essays on natural resources in Africa: local economic development, multi-ethnic coalitions and armed conflict," Economics PhD Theses 0518, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.

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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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