State Capacity and Development in Francophone West Africa

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (sammanläggning)


This thesis proposes a unique quantitative investigation of the long-term development of modern states in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is done by measuring and analysing the dynamic history of tax revenue, as a key measure of the capacity of the state, and development in four countries in francophone West Africa – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal – over the long 20th century. This approach contrasts with that of previous quantitative studies of state capacity in Africa by bridging the colonial and the independent periods and taking issue with static generalisations and typologies about African states. The thesis applies both historical and econometric methods to describe and assess various economic and political explanations to long-term state development in the West African context. In this way, the thesis makes a historically and empirically grounded contribution to our
understanding of current levels of state capacity and development in francophone West Africa.
Three main conclusions can be drawn from the findings. First, modern African states have dynamic histories that help us understand from where they come and explain their current diversity, strengths and weaknesses. This thesis presents strong evidence of significant long-term growth of state capacity and economic and social development in the four West African countries. This long-term expansion of fiscal capacity in the four countries is not properly recognised in the contemporary development literature, which tends to emphasise the current weaknesses of African governments and fiscal systems within much shorter time perspective.
Second, our understanding of African states cannot be reduced to colonial legacies or explained by institutional persistence. There were indeed clear common temporal patterns among the four countries with significant continuity over independence, but also important differences depending on economic, political and social contexts. In this way, Africa is not different from other parts of the world. Instead, what deserves much more empirical attention is the impact of the continuous external dependency and isomorphism to which African states are subjected.
Third, despite long-term growth, state capacity in the four countries has been constrained by limited social and economic development just as theory would predict. Yet, many African countries tax more than Western countries did at similar stages of development. Such high tax burdens may have negative effects on economic activity. The implication is that any hopes of increasing domestic resource mobilisation to finance e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals may be disappointing unless accompanied with sustained economic and social transformation.
In sum, the evidence presented in this thesis on the fiscal trajectories and economic development of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal is testimony to the great achievements of state development in francophone West Africa over the long 20th century, but also to the historical vulnerability and external dependency of these states.


  • Jens Andersson
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Ekonomisk historia


Tilldelande institution
Handledare/Biträdande handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2018 maj 25
  • Media-Tryck, Lund University, Sweden
Tryckta ISBN978-91-87793-44-8
Elektroniska ISBN978-91-87793-45-5
StatusPublished - 2018 maj 4


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