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Elections and Subjective Living Conditions in Sub†Saharan Africa

Tugba Zeydanli

African Development Review, 2017, vol. 29, issue 4, 545-561

Abstract: In sub†Saharan Africa (SSA), competitive elections can cause considerable violence and widespread destruction of property, most of which is ethnically motivated. Recent literature shows that ethnic identification is more prominent during competitive election periods in comparison to other identifying categories such as gender, religion, and class/occupation. This paper utilizes data from 12 SSA countries and over 40,000 respondents taken from the Afrobarometer. It asks if individual perceived living conditions changes in the run†up to competitive elections. Strong evidence shows that a perceived living condition does change. It is positively related to the proximity to an election and this proximity effect depends on the competitiveness of the election. The paper further investigates the background mechanisms behind this positive relationship, that is, to what extent does living conditions of the individual change if the party that the individual supports wins the election and is there a change in living conditions of the individual before and after the election? In addition, this paper documents that ethnic identification also has a positive impact on individual perceived living conditions after controlling for electoral cycle variables.

Date: 2017
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