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Development Economics, Political Economy, International Organization, Official Development Assistance and China’s Foreign Intervention.

Antoine Boucher


Thèse en cours : Three Essays in Applied Political Economy


Université Paris Dauphine
Sous la direction de Lisa Chauvet
Date d’inscription : Septembre 2019


My Ph.D. dissertation consists of three chapters exploring political economy topics approached through the lens of development economics and historical economics. The first two chapters focus on the political and economic influence of two major donors operating in developing countries. The third chapter examines the combined effects of politicization and political repression on electoral outcomes. The first chapter evaluates the political determinants and the economic impacts of a donor’s intervention that has become a key player in the field of official development assistance, namely China. More specifically, it investigates the effect of transport infrastructure projects financed by Chinese aid on the capacity of companies in recipient countries to export. To quantify this impact, I employ an instrumental variable strategy. The intuition behind this instrument is based on the assumption that China uses its aid in response to internal labor unrest by investing in major transport projects carried out by Chinese companies. This strategy would aim to stimulate employment and improve working conditions within these companies, thus helping to ease social tensions. The results underline the absence of any significant average effect, but suggest a positive impact of these Chinese aid projects on the export probability of firms located in sparsely populated regions. The second chapter analyzes the influence of elections on the award of World Bank-financed public contracts in developing countries. Empirical results show that, on average, firms from recipient countries would win more lucrative contracts around the election semesters of the receiving country, especially if the latter’s legislation allows private funding of election campaigns. Foreign firms would also secure larger contracts around elections in their home country, particularly if the home and recipient countries enjoy strong aid cooperation or share a common colonial history. These findings thus suggest the existence of a form of clientelism for electoral purposes in the World Bank’s procurement allocation process and highlight the persistence of bilateral donors’ influence on developing countries for political and economic purposes. The final chapter delves into the effect of politicization and political repression on electoral outcomes, by exploiting the natural experiment of the separation and reintegration of the Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nice into France between 1815 and 1860. Using first-hand data collected from the National Archives, this chapter’s findings show that the different historical trajectories, marked by distinct politicization processes, translated into a preference for radical Republicans in 1871 and left-wing candidates in recent elections (1995-2022). Results also suggest that the political repression of 1851 was ineffective as it failed to reverse the initial effects of politicization. Further analyses propose that enduring effects of these events on electoral outcomes can be attributed to the political dynasties of victims, emigration caused by the repression, and the sedentary nature of the population.


Keywords: Political Economy, Development Economics, Economic History, Official development assistance