Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Political Science, PhD


School of Politics and Economics

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Pierre Englebert

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jennifer Merolla

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Yi Feng

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Caryn Anne Peiffer


Scholars and policy makers alike argue that leaders of democracies should find it in their interest to provide high levels of social services due to a fear of being voted out of office. Yet, I find that Africa's newer democracies provide levels of social services strikingly similar to what the continent's existing non-democracies supply. This dissertation seeks to explain why this is the case.

I start by exploring the determinants of Africa's most recent wave of democratization, and find that much of Africa's 1990s democratic wave can be attributed to changes in foreign circumstances rather than from pressures from domestic democratic movements. I argue democratization has become disassociated with social services on the continent because of this exogenous nature of political liberalization. Rather than institutionalizing electoral incentives to provide social services, leadership of exogenously derived democracies become principally accountable to the foreign actors for whom political change was meant to appease. However, foreign actors are effectively unable and unwilling to demand political reforms that will institutionalize a more responsive democracy. This dynamic threatens any electoral incentive a ruling party might have to produce higher levels of social services. I test this argument quantitatively and find support for the notion that exogeneity of political change has dampened the impact that democratization has had on social service delivery in Africa.

Additionally, through in-country, qualitative fieldwork I examine how citizens demand social services and how the government responds to such demands in Zambia, a country whose democratization was heavily influenced by foreign pressure. There, I found that while there were important initial strides made by Zambia's post-transition government to institutionalize a higher level of responsiveness in social services, later erosions in Zambia's checks and balances undermined these gains. Finally, using Afrobarometer's cross-national survey data, I explore what impact foreign influenced democratization has on citizens' attachment to and satisfaction with democracy. I find that exogenously derived democratization has a small negative impact on people's attachment to democracy and satisfaction with the way democracy works in their country. I conclude by discussing some of the policy implications of these findings.