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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Ethiopia’s political economy has historically been shaped by two key factors: the strength of the state, and the divergence between the sources of political power, concentrated in the northern highlands, and of economic power, concentrated in the southern and western regions incorporated in the late nineteenth century. These features were intensified under both imperial (1941–74) and revolutionary (1974–91) regimes that used a greatly strengthened state to promote development programmes that rested on the economic exploitation of politically marginalized regions. The EPRDF regime, in office since 1991, has addressed these problems through a federal system designed to rectify historical imbalances in political power, combined with a ‘developmental state’ that drew on East Asian models to generate rapid economic growth through incorporation into the global economy, while retaining a strong role for the state. Despite the impressive successes of this programme, problems derived from the historical structure of Ethiopian statehood inevitably remain.

Keywords: developmental state, federalism, geographical inequality, history, political economy

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