How is Power Shared in Africa?

84 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2012 Last revised: 7 May 2021

See all articles by Patrick Francois

Patrick Francois

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Ilia Rainer

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Francesco Trebbi

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2012

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the power sharing layout of national political elites in a panel of African countries, most of them autocracies. We present a model of coalition formation across ethnic groups and structurally estimate it employing data on the ethnicity of cabinet ministers since independence. As opposed to the view of a single ethnic elite monolithically controlling power, we show that African ruling coalitions are large and that political power is allocated proportionally to population shares across ethnic groups. This holds true even restricting the analysis to the subsample of the most powerful ministerial posts. We argue that the likelihood of revolutions from outsiders and the threat of coups from insiders are major forces explaining such allocations. Further, over-representation of the ruling ethnic group is quantitatively substantial, but not different from standard formateur premia in parliamentary democracies. We explore theoretically how proportional allocation for the elites of each group may still result in misallocations in the non-elite population.

Suggested Citation

Francois, Patrick and Rainer, Ilia and Trebbi, Francesco, How is Power Shared in Africa? (September 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18425, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2154103

Patrick Francois (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Ilia Rainer

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ( email )

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Francesco Trebbi

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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