Date of Thesis

Spring 2018


Economic favoritism towards certain regions within a country is a common occurrence in developing countries. This phenomenon is exacerbated in counties with government systems that have little to no accountability in regard to the allocation of resources. In the African continent, this is especially true as most nations are either authoritarian or semi-democratic, in which almost all power lies in the hands of one individual. This paper investigates the existence of regional economic favoritism in Côte d’Ivoire, providing a theoretical model and empirical evidence of its existence. Theoretically, the paper explores how different authoritarian leaders have used their political power to invest and economically develop their hometown regions. To test the core hypotheses, the study uses nighttime light usage data as a proxy for economic activity and development. The change in nighttime light usage over the reign of different leaders was evaluated for every region within Côte d’Ivoire and the relationship between the change in nighttime light usage and the distance to the hometown of the nation leader was assessed. The empirical results showed an increase in economic activity and development in regions closer to that of the nation leader’s hometown. In addition, there was a decline in economic activity in the nation leader’s political rival’s regions, regardless of the distance of the regions from the nation leader’s hometown. The thesis incorporates an extended portion which addresses the fundamental question as to whether the presence of regional economic favoritism is a result of the political institutions within these countries, or the nature of leaders that come to power. Therefore, a separate analysis was carried out to assess the presence of regional economic favoritism in Malawi and Liberia, two countries in Africa that have had female nation leaders. The results in the extended portion corroborate to some extent those found in Côte d’Ivoire. Overall, the findings of this study are important in assessing political leadership within the African continent and bring to light the need of political reformation that places emphasis on modern strategies of leadership and democracy.


Favoritism, authoritarianism, GDP, nightlights, democracy, leadership

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



Second Major

Civil Engineering

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Political Science

First Advisor

John Doces

Second Advisor

Christopher Magee