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Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa: Benchmarking the Constraints

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  • Simon Johnson
  • Jonathan D Ostry
  • Arvind Subramanian

Abstract

A dozen countries had weak institutions in 1960 and yet sustained high rates of growth subsequently. This paper uses data on their characteristics early in the growth process to create benchmarks with which to evaluate potential constraints on sustained growth for sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis suggests that what are usually regarded as first-order problems—broad institutions, macroeconomic stability, trade openness, education, and inequality—may not now be binding constraints, although the extent of ill-health, internal conflict, and societal fractionalization do stand out as problems in contemporary Africa. A key question is to what extent Africa can rely on manufactured exports as a mode of “escape from underdevelopment,” a strategy successfully deployed by almost all the benchmark countries. The benchmarking comparison specifically raises two key concerns as far as a development strategy based on expanding exports of manufactures is concerned: micro-level institutions that affect the costs of exporting, and the level of the real exchange rate—especially the need to avoid overvaluation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal IMF Staff Papers.

Volume (Year): 57 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 119-171

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Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:57:y:2010:i:1:p:119-171

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Cited by:
  1. Ridha Nouira & Patrick Plane & Khalid Sekkat, 2010. "Exchange Rate Undervaluation And Manufactured Exports: A Deliberate Strategy?," Working Papers 510, Economic Research Forum, revised Mar 2010.
  2. Ajay Shah & Abhijit Sen Gupta & Ila Patnaik, 2010. "Determinants of Trade Misinvoicing," Working Papers id:3199, eSocialSciences.
  3. Arvind Subramanian & Prachi Mishra & Aaditya Mattoo, 2012. "Spillover Effects of Exchange Rates," IMF Working Papers 12/88, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Andrew Berg & Jonathan D. Ostry & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2011. "What makes growth sustained?," Working Papers 133, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  5. Gelb, Alan & Meyer, Christian J. & Ramachandran, Vijaya, 2014. "Development as diffusion: Manufacturing productivity and sub-Saharan Africa.s missing middle," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Razmi, Arslan, 2012. "The Exchange Rate, Diversification, and Distribution in a Modified Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," ADBI Working Papers 337, Asian Development Bank Institute.
  7. Aaditya Mattoo & Prachi Mishra & Arvind Subramanian, 2012. "A China Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations," Working Paper Series WP12-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  8. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2013. "International Trade and Institutional Change," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(5), pages 1145-1181, October.
  9. Stephen Broadberry & Leigh Gardner, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  10. Alan Gelb, Christian Meyer, and Vijaya Ramachandran, 2014. "Development as Diffusion: Manufacturing Productivity and Sub-Saharan Africa’s Missing Middle - Working Paper 357," Working Papers 357, Center for Global Development.
  11. Bianka Dettmer & Andreas Freytag & Peter Draper, 2013. "Check-in, departure and arrival times: Air cargo in Southern Africa?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-018, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  12. Arslan Ramzi, 2010. "The exchange rate, diversification, and distribution in a modified Ricardian model with a continuum of goods," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2010-06, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  13. Hochman, Gal & Tabakis, Chrysostomos & Zilberman, David, 2013. "The impact of international trade on institutions and infrastructure," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 126-140.
  14. Mattoo, Aaditya & Mishra, Prachi & Subramanian, Arvind, 2012. "Spillover effects of exchange rates : a study of the Renminbi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5989, The World Bank.

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