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Essays in political economy: elections, public finance and service delivery in South Africa

Kroth, Verena (2014) Essays in political economy: elections, public finance and service delivery in South Africa. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Who gets what, when and how? Each of the three papers in this thesis makes a distinct contribution to answering this question in the context of the political economy of South Africa. The first paper examines how South Africa’s public financial management system distributes central government funds to its provinces. Using a unique panel dataset comprising all provinces and three elections over the period 1995-2010, I demonstrate that provinces where the national ruling party has higher vote margins receive higher per capita equitable shares in pre-election years. This result suggests that even in a dominant party framework, electoral competition can function as an incentive to implement political budget cycles. The second paper evaluates how the extension of the franchise affected the delivery of electricity to South African households. The dataset combines nightlight satellite imagery, census data and municipal election results, making it possible to exploit the heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across nearly 800 municipalities with a difference-in-differences approach. The analysis demonstrates that enfranchisement has a significant positive effect on household electrification. Moreover, the findings show that political parties have a potential mediating role in accounting for service delivery patterns in new democracies. The third paper addresses the problem of measurement in studying public service delivery by examining a novel methodology for combining census-based data with satellite imagery of the world at night. Using cross-national data and South African census data, the paper provides a roadmap for how to navigate limitations and thus make the most of this technological advance in quantitative social science research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Verena Ernestine Kroth
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Wehner, Joachim

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