nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2016‒03‒06
six papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. The Urban Informal Sector in Francophone Africa: Large Versus Small Enterprises in Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal. By Ahmadou Aly Mbaye; Nancy Benjamin; Stephen Golub; Jean-Jacques Ekomie
  2. Civic engagement and its role in mitigating electoral violence in Nigeria: implications for the 2015 general elections By Aniekwe, Chika Charles; Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba
  3. Return Migration and Economic Outcomes in the Conflict Context By Sonja Fransen; Isabel Ruiz; Carlos Vargas-Silva
  4. Are women better police officers? Evidence from survey experiments in Uganda By Wagner, N.; Rieger, M.; Bedi, A.S.; Hout, W.
  5. The quality of demographic data on older Africans By Sara Randall; Ernestina Coast
  6. Witchcraft Beliefs and the Erosion of Social Capital: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond By Boris Gershman

  1. By: Ahmadou Aly Mbaye; Nancy Benjamin; Stephen Golub; Jean-Jacques Ekomie (Université Cheikh anta Diop de Dakar; Professor of Economics)
    Abstract: The informal sector is often associated with micro- and family-based firms. In West Africa, however, some informal firms are very large. Based on detailed surveys and interviews carried out in Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal, we compare the characteristics of formal, large informal and small informal firms. This paper discusses the survey methodology, the main industries in which large informal firms operate, and the characteristics and functioning of firms. It shows that large informal firms have some features of both their formal and small informal counterparts, but in terms of management structure and functioning they are more like informal firms than formal firms. Policy should adopt a differentiated approach towards large versus small informal firms, as they have different effects on poverty alleviation and economic development.
    Keywords: Informal sector, economic development, West Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin
    JEL: F31 J21 J30
    Date: 2014–12
  2. By: Aniekwe, Chika Charles; Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba
    Abstract: In May 1999, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, made an epochal transition to democratic civilian rule following roughly thirty-three years of military dictatorship. Since 1999, Nigeria has held four successive elections, which have all been (more or less) undermined by electoral violence. Despite this recurrent and disturbing trend of electoral violence, few works have attempted to systematically engage with three key questions: why is electoral violence a recurrent phenomenon in Nigeria? Why have there been so few constitutional provisions to mitigate its recurrence? What lessons can be learned from Nigeria’s turbulent electoral past, especially with regards to the role of civic engagement? These are the core questions this paper seeks to address. This paper draws its data primarily from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)-Electoral Violence Education and Resolution (EVER) programme, with which the authors were actively involved during the 2007 and 2011 general elections in Nigeria. To balance any inconsistencies, data derived from a content analysis of IFES reports and cumulative observations will be triangulated and cross-validated with reports of different Election Observation Missions to Nigeria (1999-2011), as well as reports from local and international observation teams and key International NGOs working in the areas of elections and democracy in Nigeria, including National Democratic Institute (NDI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and International Republican Institute (IRI). The paper thus argues that as Nigeria prepares for 2015 elections, important lessons should be adapted from the IFES-EVER project to ensure robust civic engagement in preventing and mitigating electoral related violence. The use of electoral support networks, link with Nigerian police and other security agencies, constant engagement and information sharing between INEC and all relevant stakeholders as well as biweekly reportage and publication of incidents of electoral violence with names of perpetrators will go a long way in preventing and mitigating incidents of electoral violence in Nigeria 2015 General Elections. Furthermore, crucial attention should also be paid to Nigerian legal and constitutional provisions on electoral violence with the view to reviewing the standards and level of sanctions to perpetrators.
    Keywords: Nigeria; elections
    Date: 2015–01
  3. By: Sonja Fransen (Maastricht University); Isabel Ruiz (Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford); Carlos Vargas-Silva (University of Oxford)
    Abstract: We explore differences in economic outcomes between return migrant households and non-migrant households using panel data from Burundi, a country which experienced large scale conflict-led emigration to Tanzania and massive post-war refugee return. We exploit proximity to the border of Tanzania at birth for identification purposes. Results indicate that returnee households have significantly lower levels of livestock. Differences in current economic activities and legal restrictions on economic activities while in displacement are likely to explain a portion of the current economic gap between returnee and non-migrant households. There is no evidence for other channels (e.g. vulnerability to crime, health status).
    Keywords: Return Migration, Refugees, Labor Markets
    JEL: F22 E24 D74
    Date: 2015–12
  4. By: Wagner, N.; Rieger, M.; Bedi, A.S.; Hout, W.
    Abstract: Can the feminization of public services improve quality and lower corruption? The underlying logic of such efforts is the belief that women have higher ethical standards than men. To answer this question, we examine the links between gender and policing practice using data from twelve vignette cases assessed by 600 Ugandan police officers. Our empirical strategy is based on a randomized framing experiment, which is designed to isolate the effect of gender from institutional factors and social norms. We find that the gender of the police officer depicted in the cases and victim gender are not related to the judgment of police malpractice, nor to suggested disciplinary measures. However, respondent gender matters for the reporting of misconduct and the perception of the official institutional policy of the police. Men are stricter when assessing cases along these dimensions. The results indicate that simply feminizing the police force is unlikely to enhance service quality.
    Keywords: gender, discrimination, stereotyping, police, survey experiments, Uganda
    JEL: C90 J16 O12
    Date: 2016–02–15
  5. By: Sara Randall; Ernestina Coast
    Abstract: BACKGROUND Developing appropriate and equitable policies for older people in Africa requires accurate and reliable data. It is unclear whether existing data can accurately assess older African population structures, let alone provide the detailed information needed to inform policy decision making. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the quality of nationally representative data on older Africans through examining the accuracy of age data collected from different sources. METHODS To measure the accuracy of age reporting overall we calculate Whipple’s Index, and a modified Whipple’s Index for older adults, using the single year age-sex distributions from (a) the household roster of 17 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) (b) the censuses of 12 of these countries and (c) the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) for Ethiopia and Niger. We compare reported sex ratios by age. RESULTS The quality of age data is very poor for most countries outside Southern Africa, especially for older adults. In some Sahelian countries DHS surveys appear to omit a considerable proportion of older women. Data on population structure of older people by age and sex produced by the DHS and the census are inconsistent and contradictory. CONCLUSIONS Different field methodological approaches generate contradictory data on older Africans. With the exception of Southern Africa, it is impossible to assess accurately the basic demographic structure of the older population. The data available are so problematic that any conclusions about age-related health and welfare and their evolution over time and space are potentially compromised. This has ramifications for policy makers and practitioners who demand, fund and depend on large scale demographic data sources.
    JEL: C1
    Date: 2016
  6. By: Boris Gershman
    Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between witchcraft beliefs, a deep-rooted cultural phenomenon, and various elements of social capital. Using novel survey data from nineteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa we establish a robust negative association between the prevalence of witchcraft beliefs and multiple measures of trust which holds after accounting for country fixed effects and potential confounding factors at the individual, regional, and ethnic-group levels. This finding extends to other metrics of social capital, namely charitable giving and participation in religious group activities. Such coexistence of witchcraft beliefs and antisocial attitudes stands in stark contrast to a well-explored alternative cultural equilibrium characterized by religious prosociality. Evidence from societies beyond Africa shows that in preindustrial communities where witchcraft is believed to be an important cause of illness, mistrust and other antisocial traits are inculcated since childhood. Furthermore, second-generation immigrants in Europe originating from countries with widespread witchcraft beliefs are generally less trusting.
    Keywords: Culture, Persistence, Social capital, Superstition, Trust, Witchcraft
    JEL: O10 Z10 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2015

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