Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

By John Mukum Mbaku; Gordon Tullock | Go to book overview

10
Public Choice and Institutional Reform

INTRODUCTION

Public choice involves the application of economic methodology to the study of politics. In examining and explaining public policy, public choice theorists apply the voluntary exchange paradigm of economic theory in which individuals are assumed to maximize their own self-interest. Public choice, which can be viewed as a positive economic theory of collective action, traces its origins to the works of Buchanan and Tullock ( 1962) on the study of rules, how they are chosen, and how they function; Black ( 1958) on collective choice; and Downs ( 1957) on the economic study of democracy. In addition, the research work of Bentley ( 1908), Schattschneider ( 1935), Truman ( 1951), Olson ( 1965), and Becker ( 1983) on the theory of interest groups continues the development of the sub-discipline. In recent years, significant insights into constitutional political economy have been made by Brennan and Buchanan ( 1980, 1985). The purpose of this chapter is not to provide an extensive examination of the theory of public choice. Instead, we seek to provide a brief introductory overview that should help the reader appreciate the contributions of the sub-discipline to the understanding of collective decision making ( Kaempfer and Lowenberg 1992; Mueller 1989; Buchanan 1984, 1990).


PUBLIC CHOICE AND POLITICAL MARKETS

According to Gwartney and Wagner ( 1988, 7), "public choice analysis is to governments what economic analysis is to markets." The outcomes generated in both political and economic markets reflect the incentive structure in each one of them. As discussed earlier, in political markets the primary participants are voters, who demand legislation; politicians, who supply the legislation; and bureaucrats, who manage public production and distribution. In seeking to explain how political markets function, public choice theory extends the self-interest paradigm of markets to the political arena. An important consequence of the appli

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Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Notes xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - General Introduction 1
  • 2 - The African Economies 19
  • Introduction 19
  • 3 - Changing Global Trade Patterns and Economic Dependence in Africa 33
  • Introduction 33
  • Conclusion 59
  • 4 - Public Choice and African Institutions 61
  • 5 - Origin of Inefficient Constitutional Rules 73
  • Introduction 73
  • 6 - Political Instability in Africa 91
  • Introduction 91
  • APPENDIX: REGRESSION ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL INSTABILITY AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA 105
  • 7 - Bureaucratic and Political Corruption 111
  • 8 - Post-Constitutional Opportunism in Africa 139
  • Introduction 165
  • 9 167
  • 10 - Public Choice and Institutional Reform 177
  • 11 - Democratization Strategies for Africa 189
  • Introduction 189
  • 12 - Preparing Africa for the Twenty- First Century: Lessons from Public Choice 209
  • Introduction 209
  • Conclusion 230
  • Notes 230
  • 13 - Conclusions: Looking Forward to the Twenty-First Century 233
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 259
  • About the Author 283
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