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An African Growth Trap: Production Technology and the Time-Consistency of Agricultural Taxation, R&D and Investment

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  • Margaret S. McMillan
  • William A. Masters

Abstract

Why do so many African governments consistently impose high tax rates and make little investment in productive public goods, when alternative policies could yield greater tax revenues and higher national income? The authors posit and test an intertemporal political economy model in which the government sets tax and R&D levels while investors respond with production. Equilibrium policy and growth rates depend on the initial cost structure. It is found that in many (but not all) African countries, low tax/high investment regimes would be time-inconsistent, primarily because production technology requires relatively large sunk costs. For pro-growth policies to become sustainable, new political commitment mechanisms or new production techniques would be needed. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 7 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 179-191

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Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:7:y:2003:i:2:p:179-191

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  1. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Productivity Convergence and Measurement across Industries and Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1216-38, December.
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  6. Alston, Julian M. & Wyatt, T. J. & Pardey, Philip G. & Marra, Michele C. & Chan-Kang, Connie, 2000. "A meta-analysis of rates of return to agricultural R & D: ex pede Herculem?," Research reports 113, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  14. Angela Lusigi & Colin Thirtle, 1997. "Total Factor Productivity And The Effects Of R&D In African Agriculture," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 529-538.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bamou, Ernest & Masters, William A., 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Cameroon," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48518, World Bank.
  2. Chih Ming Tan, 2005. "No One True Path: Uncovering the Interplay between Geography, Institutions, and Fractionalization in Economic Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0512, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. Margaret S. McMillan & William A. Masters & Harounan Kazianga, 2011. "Rural Demography, Public Services and Land Rights in Africa: A Village-Level Analysis in Burkina Faso," NBER Working Papers 17718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Masters, William A. & Garcia, Andres F., 2009. "Agricultural Price Distortion and Stabilization: Stylized facts and Hypothesis Tests," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 50301, World Bank.

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