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Priority roads: The political economy of Africa's interior-to-coast roads

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  • Roberto Bonfatti
  • Yuan Gu
  • Steven Poelhekk

Abstract

Africa's interior-to-coast roads are well suited to export natural resources, but not to support regional trade. Are they the optimal resourse to geography and comparative advantage, or the result of suboptimal political distortions? We investigate the political determinants of road paving in West Africa across the 1965-2012 period. Controlling for geography and the endogeneity of democratization, we show that autocracies tend to connect natural resource deposits to ports, while the networks expanded in a less interior-to-coast way in periods of democracy. This result suggests that Africa's interior-to-coast roads are at least in part the result of suboptimal political distortions.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Bonfatti & Yuan Gu & Steven Poelhekk, 2019. "Priority roads: The political economy of Africa's interior-to-coast roads," Discussion Papers 2019-04, University of Nottingham, GEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:2019-04
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    File URL: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/gep/documents/papers/2019/2019-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Moussa P. Blimpo & Robin Harding & Leonard Wantchekon, 2013. "Public Investment in Rural Infrastructure: Some Political Economy Considerations," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(suppl_2), pages -83, August.
    2. Bonfatti, Roberto & Poelhekke, Steven, 2017. "From mine to coast: Transport infrastructure and the direction of trade in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 91-108.
    3. Dave Donaldson, 2015. "The Gains from Market Integration," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 619-647, August.
    4. Remi Jedwab & Alexander Moradi, 2016. "The Permanent Effects of Transportation Revolutions in Poor Countries: Evidence from Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 268-284, May.
    5. Piet Buys & Uwe Deichmann & David Wheeler, 2010. "Road Network Upgrading and Overland Trade Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa-super- †," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 19(3), pages 399-432, June.
    6. Simon Alder & Illenin Kondo, 2018. "Political Distortions and Infrastructure Networks in China: A Quantitative Spatial Equilibrium Analysis," 2018 Meeting Papers 1269, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Tarasov, Alexander & Felbermayr, Gabriel, 2014. "Trade and the Spatial Distribution of Transport Infrastructure," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100511, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Samuel Bazzi & Christopher Blattman, 2014. "Economic Shocks and Conflict: Evidence from Commodity Prices," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 1-38, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    political economy; democracy; infrastructure; natural resources; development;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • 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
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development

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