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Government Expenditures and the Longevity of African Leaders

Institutions & Governance

A voter getting accredited in | U.S. Embassy Nigeria, Idika Onyukwu

Study Context

When politicians are running for office, they often make public promises to increase spending in education, health and other expenses which attract the interest of the general population. However, military expenditure may be more critical to remaining in power than expenditure aimed for the general population. This study aims to answer the following question: how does the effect of military expenditure on leaders’ longevity compare with the effect of education and health expenditure?

Study Design

The study uses a survival model with a sample of 83 office periods from 37 Sub-Saharan Africa countries for the period 2000 to 2017. Potential endogeneity is addressed using instrumental variables.

Results and Policy Lessons

Results indicate two main findings: (1) higher government military expenditure is associated with longer duration in office; (2) public education and health spending are not significantly related to the longevity of leaders. Results point out the necessity of reforming governance in Africa so as to better align leaders’ incentives when making budget allocation decisions with the social needs of the general population.

  • Michel Armel Ndayikeza

2020 — ongoing

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