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  • Author: Lindsay Whitfield
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Ghana has exhibited rather strong economic growth since the 1980s, but little transformation of the productive structure of its economy. The paper argues that ruling elites' policy choices are shaped by their political survival strategies. In turn, these strategies are shaped by (1) the characteristics of the ruling coalitions, which include a high degree of vulnerability in power, strong lower-level factions of the ruling coalition, and a substantial amount of fragmentation among the higher factions of the ruling coalition; (2) the weak capabilities and political influence of the nascent productive capitalists; and (3) easy access to financing for the state and the ruling coalition from foreign aid, mining and cocoa bean exports. As a result, ruling elites' policy actions did not prioritize the development of new productive sectors (or upgrading of old ones), but were geared towards delivering benefits to the higher and lower levels of the ruling coalition, as well as delivering a small amount of visible goods and services to as much of the population as possible in an effort to 'swing' voters their way at election time. Neither of these political survival strategies resulted in significant productive sector investments.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Politics, Social Stratification, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Lindsay Whitfield
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since the Fourth Republic was inaugurated in 1993, politics in Ghana has been increasingly characterized by competitive clientelism. Ruling coalitions are characterized by a high degree of vulnerability in power due to a strong opposition party, by strong lower-level factions within the ruling coalition due to their importance in winning elections, and by a high degree of fragmentation among the ruling elite. These characteristics, combined with a weak domestic capitalist class and high inflows of foreign aid, have led the ruling elites across political parties to pursue and implement policies that have a short time horizon, that do not significantly shift the allocation of resources towards building productive sectors, and which are often plagued by problems of enforcement. The results have led to growth without economic transformation. In particular, the country has witnessed recurrent macroeconomic instability, a haphazard process of privatization of state-owned enterprises, and no serious attempt to build up productive sectors outside of cocoa and gold.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Economics, Politics, Social Stratification, Foreign Aid, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana