This article looks at the impact of leadership strategies on underdevelopment in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in a comparative perspective. Using survey data from the World Bank, the Afrobarometer and the freedom house index, it refutes the conventional developmental argument, demonstrating that the effect of economic growth on poverty reduction is more balanced than usually recognized. It also shows that even though SSA experienced rapid democratization changes in the early 1990s, democratic standards have stagnated globally since then, forging patterns of unfinished transitions. The empirical analysis illustrates the poor perceived record of African politicians and a clear gap between the general support and the current satisfaction with democracy in SSA. Finally, the paper points out that change in democratization are positively related with changes in lived poverty, underlining that democratic leadership is even more important in tackling underdevelopment than economic growth in itself.
Key words: Leadership, underdevelopment, economic growth, democratization, Sub-Saharan Africa.
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