The value of democracy in the world’s poorest region: Evidence from Kenya’s road building

Ameet Morjaria 05 February 2014

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An enormous literature points to a diverse set of factors behind Africa’s growth tragedy, ranging from bad policies, poor education, and poor infrastructure, to aging leaders, the historic slave trade, and political instability. Historians, political scientists, and economists have all argued that ethnic favouritism – a situation where coethnics benefit from patronage and public policy decisions – has hampered the economic performance of many African countries.

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Topics:  Development Institutions and economics Politics and economics

Tags:  democracy, Africa, autocracy, ethnic inequality, public finance

Costing secrecy

Mark Harrison 15 January 2014

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From public finance to climate change, democracy looks to be in trouble. In many Western countries, political decisions are gridlocked while economic, social, and environmental imbalances accumulate. Our leaders juggle public opinion, private lobbies, and expert advice while trying to live within past promises and present legal obligations. The costs of reaching decisions are often high and sometimes prohibitive, leading us into democracy’s ‘do nothing zone’, where bargaining fails and the outcome is procrastination (Wintrobe 2000: 247-279).

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Topics:  Economic history Politics and economics

Tags:  democracy, dictatorship, Soviet Union, autocracy, transaction costs, secrecy

Democracy in Africa

Thorvaldur Gylfason 17 November 2013

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A man’s admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.
Alexis de Tocqueville

Until the second half of the 19th century, there were so few democratic states around the world that they could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

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Topics:  Development Economic history Politics and economics

Tags:  education, democracy, growth, Africa, Corruption, fertility, life expectancy, autocracy, anocracy

Oil and democracy: New insights

Francesco Caselli, Andrea Tesei 22 December 2011

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Looking at the historical experiences of many countries it seems uncontroversial that an abundance of natural resources can shape political outcomes. Few observers of Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and many other resource-rich countries would take seriously the proposition that political developments in these countries can be understood without reference – indeed without attributing a central role -- to these countries' natural wealth.

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Topics:  Energy Politics and economics

Tags:  democracy, oil, natural resources, autocracy

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