Essays on the impact of political pluralism, technical efficiency on food security in sub-Saharan Africa

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This study is a synthesis of two distinct but interrelated areas in applied economics. The first essay illuminates the nexus between democracy and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following the dawn of multiparty democracy in the early 1990s, several African countries have held periodic elections to bestow governance on popularly elected leaders for the prosperity of their citizens. Despite empirical evidence suggesting a positive correlation between democracy and food security, these nations continue to suffer from perennial hunger and food shortages. This study focused on 36 Sub- Saharan African Countries using equally spaced panel data derived from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Global Hunger Index. The analysis of the two-way fixed effects estimator in this study supports the notion that the construction of more inclusive democratic institutions via a formal democratic dispensation may favor an increase in food security. The gains exhibited by the global hunger index and human development indicators between 1990 and 2020 suggest that most Sub-Saharan African nations have experienced the expansion of inclusive democratic institutions and increased food security. The test statistics showed that a one-point improvement in the competitive electoral process in the region was instrumental in reducing the global hunger index by 1.87%. The Marginal effects of competitive electoral democracy indicated that inclusive and competitive democracy had the potential to reduce the global hunger index in Sub-Saharan Africa by approximately 2.2%. In conclusion, democracy was positively and significantly related to food security improvement. Therefore, more efforts should be made to consolidate and enhance the promotion of the democratization process in Sub-Saharan Africa. The second essay was conducted to determine the technical efficiency of agricultural food crop production using a two-stage stochastic frontier production function. The study performed two diagnostic tests for the suitability of the frontier analysis. The first test was the Likelihood Ratio test, which produced a ratio of 1,936 greater than 8.23 (χ2 by Kodde and palm 1986) at a one percent significance level, implying that the null hypothesis of the restricted model was rejected in favor of the unrestricted stochastic frontier analysis. In the second test, the gamma parameter value of the maximum likelihood of the stochastic frontier production was 0.7385, which is close to one (1), implying that 73.85% of the variability of the agri-food crop production index was attributed to the technical efficiency in the production technologies, while 26.15% was due to the random noises. The results of the region's stochastic frontier production function estimate produced manure and fertilizer elasticities that were positive and highly significant. These elasticities signify the importance of manure and fertilizer in improving technical efficiency in producing agrifood crops in Sub-Saharan Africa. The elasticities of agricultural labor and land were positive but statistically insignificant. The sensitivity analysis of the average technical efficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa revealed that Gabon which was the most efficient country could only bring about an 8.58% (0.7972-0.7288/0.7972) increase in agri-food crop production in the country. Botswana which was the least efficient country could only increase agri-food crop production by 30.14% (0.7972-0.5569/0.7972) to achieve the required technical efficiency of the most efficient country, Gabon.

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Technical Efficiency, Stochastic Frontier Analysis, Democracy, Food Security, Sub-Saharan Africa