Does the Ethiopian Lion Resemble the Asian Tigers?

Mathias Munk Schmidt
Anne Mette Kjær
Start Date: 
February 13, 2017
End Date: 
March 31, 2017
Project Type: 
Master Thesis
Project Code: 
Total grant: 
DKK 18,000
Contact : 
Mathias Munk Schmidt <>

Since 2003, Ethiopia has showed remarkable progress in terms of economic growth. In this thesis, I consider the sustainability of this growth by examining if Ethiopia shares Asian developmental state characteristics. As a green agriculture revolution was a common denominator in the Asian tiger economies’ initial development, and farming employs almost 85% of Ethiopians, the agricultural sector is a natural point of departure. I conducted a 7-week field trip to Ethiopia collecting qualitative interviews from key stakeholders in Addis Ababa and farmers from the countryside. This data is integrated into a broader body of qualitative and quantitative sources making up the comprehensive empirical foundation of this thesis. I show that industrial upgrading, cohesion and diversification evident in Asian developmental states are similarly present in agricultural sectors prioritized by the Ethiopian government. Furthermore, I find that climate change in combination with coalitional side payments make up a systemic vulnerability that drives the emergence of developmental state institutions. The findings have wide implications, as global warming will continue to pose a threat that is external to the state’s control. Against intuition, this threat may contribute to the formation of developmental state institutions in African countries and elsewhere.

This page was last modified on 08 December 2017

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