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Africa's Growth Prospects in a European mirror: a Historical Perspective

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  • Broadberry, Stephen

    (London School of Economics and CAGE)

  • Gardner, Leigh

    (London School of Economics)

Abstract

Drawing on recent quantitative research on Europe reaching back to the medieval period, and noting a relationship between the quality of institutions and economic growth, this paper offers a reassessment of Africa’s growth prospects. Periods of positive growth driven by trade, followed by growth reversals which wiped out the gains of the previous boom, characterized pre-modern Europe as well as twentieth century Africa. Since per capita incomes in much of sub-Saharan Africa are currently at the level of medieval Europe, which did not make the breakthrough to modern economic growth until the nineteenth century, we caution against too optimistic a reading of Africa’s recent growth experience. Without the institutional changes necessary to facilitate structural change, growth reversals continue to pose a serious threat to African prosperity. Only if growth continues after a downturn in Africa’s terms of trade can we be sure that the corner has been turned.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in its series CAGE Online Working Paper Series with number 172.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cge:warwcg:172

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Keywords: Africa; Growth prospects.;

References

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  1. Dunning, Thad, 2004. "Conditioning the Effects of Aid: Cold War Politics, Donor Credibility, and Democracy in Africa," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 409-423, April.
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  9. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
  10. Jess Benhabib & Alejandro Corvalan & Mark M. Spiegel, 2011. "Reestablishing the Income-Democracy Nexus," NBER Working Papers 16832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Ward, Michael D., 2006. "Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(04), pages 911-933, October.
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