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The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya


  • Robin Burgess
  • Remi Jedwab
  • Edward Miguel
  • Ameet Morjaria
  • Gerard Padró i Miquel


Ethnic favoritism is seen as antithetical to development. This paper provides credible quantification of the extent of ethnic favoritism using data on road building in Kenyan districts across the 1963-2011 period. Guided by a model it then examines whether the transition in and out of democracy under the same president constrains or exacerbates ethnic favoritism. Across the 1963 to 2011 period, we find strong evidence of ethnic favoritism: districts that share the ethnicity of the president receive twice as much expenditure on roads and have four times the length of paved roads built. This favoritism disappears during periods of democracy.

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  • Robin Burgess & Remi Jedwab & Edward Miguel & Ameet Morjaria & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2013. "The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 19398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19398
    Note: DEV POL

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa


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