The Journal of Development Studies

Democracy or Accountability? Governance and Social Spending in Africa

Author(s)

Stephanie Kumah, Samuel Brazys

Abstract

In recent years, democracy has often served as shorthand for good governance when considering what facilitates development-friendly public expenditure. While recognising the sufficiency of democracy, we argue that it is accountability, achievable outside full democracy, that is the necessary component of governance. However, vague conceptualisations of accountability as ‘responsiveness’ or ‘answerability’ have prevented empirical work from exploring the relationship between accountability and public spending. In this paper we develop an understanding of accountability as the interaction between opposition, transparency, and enforcement and test its impact on social spending in Africa in both the presence and absence of electoral institutions.

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