The Economic Foundations of Powersharing: Evidence from Africa.

With Philip Roessler. R&R at the American Journal of Political Science.

How–and with whom–do rulers share power in weak states? Existing research focuses on the strategic logic of powersharing. In this paper we analyze its economic foundations. Powersharing is modeled as a subnational fiscal contract, in which rulers allocate political representation based on different constituencies' revenue potential. Empirically, we combine historical geospatial data on different types of primary commodity production – mineral point resources and diffuse smallholder cash crop agriculture – with the ethnic affiliation of cabinet ministers across 15 countries in Africa. Consistent with a revenue bargaining framework, cash crop groups are overrepresented in post-independence cabinets, while mining or food crop production do not translate into higher shares of power. However, cash crop producers' access to power is not fixed or deterministic. We show how these bargains are constrained by the strategic environment that structures authoritarian powersharing and exogenous changes in global commodity prices.

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