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Does the quality of institutions affect economic growth in West African countries? Which institutional variable aids or harms economic growth in the region? Is the effect of institutions on economic growth in former French-colonised countries different from that of British-colonised countries? This study addresses these questions. Specifically, we first examined the effect of six institutional variables on economic growth for each of the 13 West African countries. Then, we employed panel data estimation techniques to examine the overall effect of the quality of institutions on the economies of the region. Finally, we grouped the 13 countries into French-colonised and British colonised countries following the argument of Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (2001,2005) and then examined the impact of institutional quality on the economic growth of these subgroups. Our findings reveal that the effect of institutional variables on the economy of each country varies. Overall, we find that government stability and democratic accountability have a positive and significant influence on economic growth, while control of corruption and socioeconomic conditions have deleterious effects on economic growth. Finally, institutions contribute positively to economic growth in French-colonised countries compared to British-colonised countries. The results imply that there is a need to strengthen institutions in West Africa, especially in former British colonies.
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