Friday, April 08, 2005

Lesser-known "Good" Dictators - Part I

I started investigating what actually happens behind the dataset by reading area studies journal papers available at Jstor. During the course of this investigation, I realised there are lesser-known "good" dictators, good in the sense that investment, the most robust determinant of economic growth, is somehow encouraged under their rule.

So I decided to take notes of them in this blog. Today you'll know three "good" dictators from Bangalesh, Burkina Faso, and Burundi. All the economic figures come from the Penn World Table version 6.1.

Ziaur Rahman aka Zia (Bangladesh, 1975-81)

Under his rule, the share of investment in GDP went up from 6.82% in 1975 to 13.08% in 1981. Although the economic growth rate was volatile, real GDP per capita also went up from 963.43 US dollars to 1059.29 dollars (both in 1996 value). His economic policies are discussed in

Syed Serajul Islam (1986) "Relative State Autonomy and Development Strategy in Bangladesh, 1975-1981," Pacific Affairs, 59(4), pp.563-576.
4o percent of the industries nationalised by the previous government were handed over to private entrepreneurs. The constitution was amended so that acquisition, nationalization or requisition of property could now take place "with compensation only."

This move, however, was applied only for industries losing money; he retains control of profitable sugar industry, for example. Behind this profit-maximization objective, argues the author, lies his reliance on the military's support; the defense budget shot up after he seized power in 1975.

Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso, 1983-87)

Under his rule, investment as a ratio of real GDP picked up from 7.37% in 1983 to 12.91% in 1985 (then declined to 10.25% in 1987). Although his political ideology was rather left-wing, "private investment in manufacturing industries, in construction and in agricultural input supply sectors was encouraged... [T]he economic policies ... under Sankara resembled the approach advocated by the World Bank in terms of regulating the public sector" including cuts in pay and number employed in public administration (Mike Speirs (1991) "Agrarian Change and the Revolution in Burkina Faso," African Affairs, 90(358), pp.89-110).

Jean-Baptiste Bagaza (Burundi, 1976-87)

Under his rule, the share of investment in GDP steadily went up from 3.48 percent in 1976 to 12.86 percent in 1984. Although the economic growth rate during this period were more volatile (so real GDP per capita in 1987 was almost the same as in 1976), he must have done something to create a good investment climate in Burundi. Unfortunately, information on his rule is very scarce. The only piece of information I found is on page 35 of
Rose M. Kadende-Kaiser and Paul J. Kaiser (1997) "Modern Folklore, Identity, and Political Change in Burundi", African Studies Review, Vol.40, No.3, pp.29-54:
"Closely allied with the army, Bagaza carefully controlled ethnic relations, not permitting Hutu and Tutsi to emphasize their ethnic identities through fear and repression. During this period, the army and government became increasingly under the control of Bagaza's political confidants, many of whom were Tutsi from the south. ... There was relative calm in the country during the Second Republic..." (Note: the Second Republic refers to the period of Bagaza's rule)
I'm unable to find any more than this. If you know about Bagaza's economic policies, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Hey! Can't wait for part 2 to come up!

I'm intrigued by the amazingly high GDP pc for Bangladesh at that time. I'm sure you mean PPP, but even then the figure seems really high for the 70s...

Oh, well, I'm just being cynical, I suppose.

Best, Em

Anonymous said...

You can infer something on Bagaza's economic policy from