Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Urbatsch


Africa has been a politically disturbed place for centuries, during which the African people have been struggling for independence, living in conflicts and continuous wars, and fighting against poverty and diseases. There are so many problems and issues in Africa that almost every country is caught in one trap or another except for a few who thrived out of their traps and achieved relative success in economic growth. Africa has been receiving aid worldwide, but things are not getting better. I cannot refrain from asking questions: why is Africa so poor? What is preventing from growing and developing? In addition to that, what is hindering the progress of democracy in Africa countries?

Many theories might explain why Africa has been the poorest continent despite its many valuable resources and vast amount of land. In this thesis, I mean to test my theory that Western influence has had a major impact on economic development and the progress of democracy in Africa. This influence, which I view as an ongoing effect that went through the past to the present, can be either good or bad. This process includes the colonial history, the resources and culture distribution, and also foreign aid, which I view as one of the major ways of implanting Western impact in the modern era.

Africa is in desperate need of foreign aid and foreign direct investment; however, the influences of foreign aid and investment on economic growth and democracy promotion are as yet unknown. I recognize that the potential positive influence of foreign aid and investment on Africa's development is hard to ignore; on the other hand, I think foreign aid and investment are hurting Africa's economy because many foreign aid programs are designed neither to fit the economic structure that leads to promising growth nor to meet the need of local people. Another concern is that foreign aid is far from enough to build Africa's economy and resolve issues because it is heavily unevenly distributed.

To conduct my research I decided to do panel data analysis for all 51 African countries. In this study I have coded selected variables that I believe reflect of Western impact, as well as variables that cause different outcome of democracy and development among African countries. I hope this study can be as inspiring for me as it is for other people to continue on further studies.


Copyright Owner

Jiaxu Liu



File Format


File Size

68 pages

Africandata.xlsx (3651 kB)