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The Product Space: What Does It Say About the Opportunities for Growth and Structural Transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa?

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  • Arnelyn Abdon
  • Jesus Felipe
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    Abstract

    In this paper we look at the economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in the context of structural transformation. We use Hidalgo et al.'s (2007) concept of product space to show the evolution of the region's productive structure, and discuss the opportunities for growth and diversification. The majority of SSA countries are trapped in the export of unsophisticated, highly standard products that are poorly connected in the product space; this makes the process of structural transformation of the region particularly difficult. The products that are nearby to those they already export have the same characteristics. Therefore, shifting to these products will do little to improve SSA's growth prospects. To jump-start and sustain growth, governments must implement policies and provide public inputs that will encourage the private sector to invest in new and more sophisticated activities.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_670.

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    Date of creation: May 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_670

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    Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

    Related research

    Keywords: Industrial Policy; Product Space; Structural Transformation; Sub-Saharan Africa;

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Arnelyn Abdon & Marife Bacate & Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar, 2010. "Product Complexity and Economic Development," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_616, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar & Arnelyn Abdon, 2010. "How Rich Countries Became Rich and Why Poor Countries Remain Poor: It's the Economic Structure . . . Duh!," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_644, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Elsa V. Artadi, 2003. "The economic tragedy of the XXth century: Growth in Africa," Discussion Papers 0203-17, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
    4. Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar & Arnelyn Abdon, 2010. "As You Sow So Shall You Reap: From Capabilities to Opportunities," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_613, Levy Economics Institute.
    5. Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar & Norio Usui & Arnelyn Abdon, 2010. "Why Has China Succeeded-And Why It Will Continue To Do So," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_611, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar & Arnelyn Abdon, 2010. "Using Capabilities to Project Growth, 2010-30," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_609, Levy Economics Institute.
    7. Ndulu,Benno J. & O'Connell,Stephen A. & Bates,Robert H. & Collier,Paul & Soludo,Chukwuma C., 2009. "The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127752, October.
    8. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1999. "Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    9. Jesus Felipe & Utsav Kumar & Arnelyn Abdon, 2010. "Exports, Capabilities, and Industrial Policy in India," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_638, Levy Economics Institute.
    10. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Haiyan Deng & Alyson C. Ma & Hengyong Mo, 2005. "World Trade Flows: 1962-2000," NBER Working Papers 11040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Arbache, Jorge & Go, Delfin S. & Page, John, 2008. "Is Africa's economy at a turning point?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4519, The World Bank.
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