Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Accountability failure in isolated areas: the cost of remoteness from the capital city

Provenzano, Sandro ORCID: 0000-0003-0626-8801 (2024) Accountability failure in isolated areas: the cost of remoteness from the capital city. Journal of Development Economics, 167. ISSN 0304-3878

[img] Text (Provenzano_accountability-failure-in-isolated-areas--published) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)

Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2023.103214


This paper documents that in Sub-Saharan Africa areas isolated from the capital city are less economically developed and examines potential underlying mechanisms. We apply a boundary-discontinuity design using national borders that divide pre-colonial ethnic homelands to obtain quasi-experimental variation in distance to the national capital city. We find that isolation significantly reduces nightlights at the intensive and extensive margin, and that a one percent increase in distance to the capital causes a drop in household wealth corresponding to 3.5 percentiles of the national wealth distribution. Our results suggest that a lower provision of public goods in isolated areas is a key link between remoteness and economic performance. Despite receiving worse services, people who are isolated exhibit a higher level of trust in their political leaders. Further, isolated citizens consume the news less frequently and penalize their leaders less for misgovernance. We interpret these findings as pointing towards dysfunctional accountability mechanisms that reduce the incentives of vote-maximizing state executives to invest into isolated areas.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
H - Public Economics > H4 - Publicly Provided Goods > H41 - Public Goods
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O10 - General
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O4 - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity > O40 - General
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R1 - General Regional Economics > R12 - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2023 10:21
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2024 10:48

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics