Ebola and state legitimacy

Matthias Flückiger, Markus Ludwig, Ali Onder

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    We exploit the recent West African Ebola epidemic as an event that necessitated the provision of a common-interest public good, Ebola control measures, to empirically investigate the effect of public good provision on state legitimacy. Our regression results show that state legitimacy, measured by trust in central authorities and willingness to pay taxes, increased disproportionately in districts that experienced a greater exposure to Ebola. We argue, supported by results from SMS-message-based surveys, that one potentially important channel underlying this finding is a greater valuation of Ebola control measures in regions with intense Ebola transmission. Evidence further indicates that the effects of Ebola exposure are more pronounced in regions where the governments responded relatively robustly to the epidemic. To address concerns related to the possibility that the spread and intensity of the epidemic are influenced by local differences in state legitimacy, we rely on a 2SLS-IV approach for identification. Observed Ebola case numbers are instrumented with simulation-derived predicted numbers. Variation in timing and intensity of the simulated EVD epidemic is restricted to aspects that are plausibly exogenous with respect to changes in legitimacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number0
    Pages (from-to)2064-2089
    Number of pages26
    JournalEconomic Journal
    Issue number621
    Early online date8 Jan 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


    • State Legitimacy
    • Ebola
    • West Africa


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