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Papers on institutional quality and economic development in African regions

Iddawela, Yohan (2021) Papers on institutional quality and economic development in African regions. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004292


This thesis examines the relationship between institutional quality and regional economic development in African countries. It analyses three elements of institutional quality: the impact of institutional quality on economic development, the drivers of poor institutional quality, and interventions that can be adopted to improve institutional quality. The first paper of this PhD, published in the Journal of Development Studies and co-authored with Neil Lee and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, examines the relationship between sub-national government quality and economic development across 356 regions in 22 African countries. We create a novel index of sub-national government quality using Afrobarometer survey data, and we use high resolution night-time satellite images as a proxy for economic activity. We find that a reduction in sub-national government quality causes decreases in regional economic activity. In the second paper, I examine one of the drivers of sub-national government quality in African regions – armed conflict. I find that armed conflict leads to a deterioration in sub-national government quality. Contrary to the existing literature which suggests that armed conflict leads to a loss of government legitimacy, I find that this occurs because sub-national governments divert resources away from delivering services and towards crisis response. As a result, I find that armed conflict does not lead to a reduction in national government quality as national governments possess much greater resources. Therefore, national governments are able to respond to crises without significantly reducing the quality of service delivery. The third paper, co-authored with Neil Lee, examines the impact of national government quality on spatial inequality within African provinces. We create, for the first time, an index of within-province inequality using high resolution satellite imagery. We find that national government quality is just as important as differences in geographical endowments in driving spatial inequality within provinces. This is primarily because national governments in African countries have a history of city-specific favouritism – i.e. creating policies that benefit a particular city (typically due to corruption, nepotism or clientelism). This city-specific favouritism does not spill-over and benefit the wider province. Instead, it creates and exacerbates inequality within provinces.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Yohan Iddawela
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Lee, Neil

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