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Title: State elites and the politics of regional inequality in Ghana
Author: Abdulai, Abdul-Gafaru
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Recent years have witnessed renewed global attention to persistent spatial inequalities and the potential role of politics and power relations in redressing and reinforcing them. This thesis offers a political analysis of the problem of regional inequality in Ghana, with particular attention to the role of inter-elite power relations in underpinning the country’s historical North-South divide. The analysis is based on three main sets of data: the regional distribution of political power during 1993-2008; the regional composition of public expenditure; and elite interviews. The thesis argues that a key factor that explains Ghana’s stark unbalanced regional development has been the continuous exclusion of the historically poorer Northern regions from a fair share of both productive and social sector spending. The socio-economic marginalisation of these regions has been underpinned principally by a weaker influence of Northern elites on resource allocation decisions within a political environment that is driven largely by patron-client relations. Consequently, even policies and programmes designed with the formal objective of targeting the ‘poor’ often end up discriminating against the poorer Northern regions at the level of implementation. However, Northern elites’ lack of ‘agenda-setting powers’ is not a function of their exclusion from government, but rather of their ‘adverse incorporation’ into the polity, whereby they have often been included on relatively unfavourable terms. This explanation differs significantly from much of current mainstream thinking regarding the underlying drivers of persistent unbalanced regional development, including dominant accounts of Ghana’s North-South inequalities. Notably, there has been a tendency of both academics and policy makers to put the blame on certain innate characteristics of the North, such as the region’s fewer production potentials associated with its ‘bad geography’ and Northerners’ proclivity for violent conflicts. Such accounts therefore tend to blame the relative socio-economic backwardness of the Northern regions on the North itself rather than the nature of its incorporation into broader political formations.
Supervisor: Hulme, David; Hickey, Samuel Sponsor: School of Environment and Development
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: State elites, Politics, regional inequality