Institutions and Financial System Development in Africa
Emenalo, Chukwunonye Obi-Ogulo
Recent research suggests that financial system development is important for economic development and for reducing financing constraints of firms (Levine, 2005). Consequently, researchers started investigating the factors that determine financial system development. A group of factors that have been identified are institutional factors. Many researchers have investigated the theoretical and empirical links among historical institutional factors, current institutional factors, and financial system development (Beck and Levine, 2005). There are, however, few studies that have investigated extensively the theoretical and empirical links among institutional factors and financial system development within the African context. Africa provides an interesting context to empirically validate and refine many of the theories that have been postulated to explain the relationships among historical and current institutional factors and financial system development. This is because Africa is in the process of developing its institutions and reforming existing ones and offers an opportunity to examine the impact of institutional factors on financial system development in nascent contexts. Therefore, this dissertation investigated the following research question: To what extent are institutional factors determinants of financial system development in Africa? To answer this research question, this study empirically evaluated the effects on financial system development of historical institutional factors that have been identified by four theories: legal origins theory, disease endowment theory, religion-based theory, and ethnic fractionalisation theory. Moreover, current institutional factors identified by the law and finance theory as possible determinants of financial system development were empirically examined. Furthermore, the links among historical and current institutional factors were empirically studied. The results show that the disease endowment variables are the only historical institutional factors that explain cross-country variation in financial system development in Africa. Additionally, this study finds that the institutional enforcement quality and efficiency of the judicial system are the only current institutional factors that explain cross-country variation in financial system development in Africa. Current institutional factors such as the efficiency of the legal property system and the quality of the credit information infrastructure do not appear to have effects on financial system development. Moreover, the institutional enforcement quality seems to be one of the possible channels through which disease endowment affects financial system development in Africa. This study also reveals that there are few statistically significant links among historical and current institutional factors within the African context. To my knowledge, this is the first study to show some of these empirical links among historical institutional factors, current institutional factors, and financial system development for the African context. The main conclusion of this dissertation is that institutional factors seem not to be determinants of financial system development in Africa to a large extent. In essence, institutional factors appear to matter for financial system development in Africa, but not as much as might have been expected judging from many calls for institutional reforms from the World Bank and others. The theoretical and policy implications of the findings of this dissertation are discussed, and future areas of research are also proposed.
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