Priority Roads: The Political Economy of Africa's Interior-to-Coast Roads

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2019-006/VIII

57 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2019 Last revised: 8 Sep 2020

See all articles by Roberto Bonfatti

Roberto Bonfatti

University of Padua - Department of Economics

Yuan Gu

VU University Amsterdam

Steven Poelhekke

University of Auckland

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 22, 2019

Abstract

Africa's interior-to-coast roads are well suited to export natural resources, but not to support regional trade. Are they the optimal response 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. Africa’s interior-to-coast roads are well suited to export natural resources, but not to support regional trade. Are they the optimal response 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.

Keywords: political economy, democracy, infrastructure, natural resources, development

JEL Classification: P16, P26, D72, H54, O18, Q32

Suggested Citation

Bonfatti, Roberto and Gu, Yuan and Poelhekke, Steven, Priority Roads: The Political Economy of Africa's Interior-to-Coast Roads (January 22, 2019). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2019-006/VIII, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3323625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3323625

Roberto Bonfatti (Contact Author)

University of Padua - Department of Economics ( email )

via Del Santo 33
Padova, 35123
Italy

Yuan Gu

VU University Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Steven Poelhekke

University of Auckland ( email )

Auckland
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/stevenpoelhekke/

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