AFRICA'S RECENT ECONOMIC REVIVAL: ROLE OF POLICIES, POLITICS AND INSTITUTIONS

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Date
2011
Authors
Hobdari, Niko
Advisor
Drazen, Allan
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Abstract
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has made significant progress in democracy and economic performance since mid-1990s, but the continent remains by far the poorest region in the world. This dissertation consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 reviews SSA's history of democracy and economic policy since independence, including a literature review. It argues that while SSA's disappointing economic performance is, in part, due to its difficult geography, high incidence of disease, and colonial legacy, the main reason for Africa's woes until mid-1990s seem to be the failure of economic policies adopted by most SSA governments after independence. Chapter 2 examines SSA's recent economic growth acceleration, and finds that such acceleration is mainly due to better institutions and policies adopted by most SSA governments (as a result of more open and democratic societies), as well as lower incidence of armed conflicts, whereas the role of aid and terms of trade is relatively limited. Chapter 3 reviews the impact on fiscal policy of competitive presidential elections in SSA during 1980-2005, and finds that (i) the magnitude of political budget cycles has declined over time as a result of stronger checks and balances and more experienced electorates; and (ii) that looser fiscal policies do not help reelect incumbents.
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