Working Paper 185 - Remittances and the Voter Turnout in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Macro and Micro Level Data
|Authors||Christian Ebeke, Thierry Yogo|
For many developing countries including in Sub-Saharan Africa, international remittance flows represent a large and stable source of external finance. Recent empirical studies using Sub-Saharan African data have demonstrated the positive contribution of remittances to poverty reduction and financial development. However, a recent wave of the remittance literature shows that remittance flows can have a damaging effect as they impede external competitiveness of receiving countries by fueling inflation and appreciating the real exchange rate. They are also related to more corruption, lower labor force participation, and lower supply of public goods in education and health. The present study takes advantage of this recent literature and investigates the effects of remittances on political participation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Recent studies document the role of international migration in the propagation of political values including voting behavior. For example, international migration can shape the voting behavior in the home country through two main channels. (1) The transfer of political norms from the hosting country to the home country. (2) The direct influence through vote guidance during election time.
Empirical investigations are carried out using two samples. First, the analysis is performed using cross-country macro data for 27 Sub-Saharan African countries for which it’s possible to mobilize both voter turnout and annual data on remittances. Econometric specifications controlling for key determinants of voter turnout, country fixed-effects, do not reject the hypothesis that remittances inflows are significantly associated with lower voter turnout in Sub-Saharan Africa. Second, a microeconometric approach is employed using AfroBarometer data. To deal with the non-random nature of remittances in the sample, the paper follows the recent contribution of Esquivel and Huerta- Pineda (2007) and Cox-Edwards and Rodriguez-Oreggia (2009) and resort to propensity score matching techniques to identify the effect of remittances on individuals’ propensity to vote.
Using both cross-country and individual country level data, the paper demonstrates that remittance inflows significantly lower the propensity to vote during national elections in Sub-Saharan Africa. This effect is robust to empirical specifications aimed at dealing with the endogeneity of remittance inflows at both country and household level data.
The findings of this paper provide evidence that one “bad news” related to remittances implies a drop in electoral participation by remittance-receiving individuals. Remittances the accountability of governments and the benefits to be had from democratic systems by reducing the interest of individuals to participate in political systems by exercising voting rights.