Parties or Portfolio? The Economic Consequences of Africa's Big Cabinets
Posted: 18 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 18, 2013
Does cabinet size impact economic performance in Africa? The number of ministerial portfolios has increased steadily for nearly four decades, yet we know little about the consequences of Africa’s cabinets. Comparative studies generate conflicting expectations, either blaming broad-based governments for patronage or crediting them for economic development. Using cross-national time-series data on 45 African countries between 1971 and 2006, statistical tests first show that cabinets with more ministries impose higher taxes and have higher rates of inflation. Next, we find that multiparty governments are strongly associated with less extractive government, lower rates of inflation, and less patronage spending. We conclude that coalition governments improve economic performance through horizontal monitoring of executives; this differs significantly from prevailing findings about the performance of cabinets in the developed world.
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