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The measurement of institutions and instability in Democratic Republic of Congo, 1880-2010

This paper introduces a new database for Property Rights, Political and Civil Rights and Political Instability for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the 1880-2010 period. Following the methodology used by Fedderke et al. (2001) and Letete (2015), we compute de jure Property, Political and Civil Rights indicators from archival information based on formal legislature (Laws, Ordinances-Laws, Decrees, Ordinances) and the facto Political Instability Indicators. Both the property rights and the political rights and civil liberties indices experience significant declines during the Congo Free State and Mobutu’s dictatorship and more generally low values for most of the 1880-2010 period. This indicates that the history of institutions in DRC has most often been dominated by the prevalence of predatory institutions allowing for the extraction of resources for the benefit of the colonizers or the post-independence elite. The political instability index displays more volatility that the previous indices. Due to the lack of administrative data in DRC, we could not construct length series for it. However, an interesting pattern emerges from the graph of the political instability index: despite several peaks and troughs, this index displays an increasing trend which seems to suggest that the relatively unsuccessful attempts of democratization of the country have cost dearly in terms of the foregone political stability.

Working paper 742
1 April 2018
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