nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2019‒10‒07
four papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. Eat Widely, Vote Wisely? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda By Christopher Blattman; Horacio Larreguy; Benjamin Marx; Otis R. Reid
  2. A simple time-insensitive index of instability as a proxy for the “Africa dummy” variable – A Note By Amavilah, Voxi
  3. Fiscal cyclicality in South African public expenditures: Do asymmetries explain inconsistencies? By Kambale Kavese; Andrew Phiri
  4. Fostering savings by commitment: Evidence from a quasi‐natural experiment at the Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa By Lucia, Dalla Pellegrina; Angela, De Michele; Giorgio, Di Maio; Paolo, Landoni

  1. By: Christopher Blattman; Horacio Larreguy; Benjamin Marx; Otis R. Reid
    Abstract: We estimate the effects of one of the largest anti-vote-buying campaigns ever studied — with half a million voters exposed across 1427 villages—in Uganda’s 2016 elections. Working with civil society organizations, we designed the study to estimate how voters and candidates responded to their campaign in treatment and spillover villages, and how impacts varied with campaign intensity. Despite its heavy footprint, the campaign did not reduce politician offers of gifts in exchange for votes. However, it had sizable effects on people’s votes. Votes swung from well-funded incumbents (who buy most votes) towards their poorly-financed challengers. We argue the swing arose from changes in village social norms plus the tactical response of candidates. While the campaign struggled to instill norms of refusing gifts, it leveled the electoral playing field by convincing some voters to abandon norms of reciprocity—thus accepting gifts from politicians but voting for their preferred candidate.
    JEL: C93 D72 O55
    Date: 2019–09
  2. By: Amavilah, Voxi
    Abstract: This paper calculates a simple time-insensitive index of instability using discrete series of events. The calculation of the index does not require complex statistical analysis of event series, discrete-event systems analysis, or categorical analysis. It uses a simple, single-equation regression to estimate the effects of instability on Africa’s per capita GDP over the 1961-2018 period. The results are mixed, with some showing that instability has constrained Africa’s performance and others implying it has helped. The findings are not quite econometrically pure, but reasonable given that many relevant variables are missing from the regression. Hence, I resist the temptation to comment further until at least conventional factors like capital are included in this regression, while I insist that the index itself is sound.
    Keywords: Index of instability, Africa dummy, economic performance, single-equation regression
    JEL: C22 C49 O55 Z0
    Date: 2019–10–02
  3. By: Kambale Kavese (Eastern Cape Socio Economic Consultation Council); Andrew Phiri (Department of Economics, Nelson Mandela University)
    Abstract: The most recent sub-prime crisis, the Euro-debt crisis and the global recessionary period have resurrected a debate on the nature of fiscal cyclicality in the South African economy. Our study questions whether the cyclicality of public policy has evolved asymmetrically and holds differently over the recessionary and expansionary phases of the South African business cycle for a quarterly period of 2001:01 – 2018:04. To ensure that the business cycle is inherent to our estimation process we rely on the nonlinear autoregressive distributive lag (N-ARDL) model as empirical framework. Our empirical results point to nonlinear cyclicality in fiscal expenditures where government behaves procyclical in the upswing of the business cycle whilst behaving countercyclical during economic downswings. These findings are robust to alternative specifications, inclusion of control variables and estimations across different subsamples. Policy implications are also offered.
    Keywords: Fiscal cyclicality; Business cycles; Nonlinear autoregressive distributive lag (NARDL) model; South Africa; Emerging Market economies, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
    JEL: C32 C51 C52 E32 E62 H61
    Date: 2019–09
  4. By: Lucia, Dalla Pellegrina; Angela, De Michele; Giorgio, Di Maio; Paolo, Landoni
    Abstract: We study the effects of a pilot project that strengthened the saving incentive mechanisms set up by the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF), a leading microfinance institution based in South Africa. The program aimed at introducing a stimulus to save in the form of the possession of “Goal Card” whereby clients owning this tool were asked to identify a saving goal and to commit to a regular saving amount. The experiment had quasinatural approach, as it has been implemented by SEF in selected locations starting from May 2015. Difference in differences estimates show an improvement in the savings performance of the SEF customers treated with the program, compared to the counterfactual. Besides the evaluation of the program’s main effects, we investigate the clients’ understanding of the pilot and their attitude towards saving, as well as the quality of the pilot’s administration and its operational challenges, through the administration and analysis of surveys conducted on both the treated and control groups of clients.
    Keywords: Microfinance; quasi-natural experiment; savings.
    JEL: G21 I25 L31 O15
    Date: 2019–05

This nep-afr issue is ©2019 by Sam Sarpong. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.