Abstract

Recent studies on the history of economic development demonstrate that concentration of power on a monarch or a ruling coalition impedes economic growth and that institutional changes that diffuse power, though beneficial to the society in general, are opposed by some social groups. In November 2005, Kenyans rejected a proposed constitution primarily because it did not reduce the powers of the executive to any significant degree. Using data of voting patterns in the constitutional referendum and following the rational choice framework, I estimate a model of the demand for power diffusion and demonstrate that groups voting decisions depend on expected gains and likelihood of monopolizing power. The results also reveal the importance of ethnic divisions in hindering the power diffusion process, and therefore the study establishes a channel through which ethnic fragmentation impacts on economic development.

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