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The Economic Tragedy of the XXth Century: Growth in Africa

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  • Elsa V. Artadi
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin

Abstract

The dismal growth performance of Africa is the worst economic tragedy of the XXth century. We document the evolution of per capita GDP for the continent as a whole and for subset of countries south of the Sahara desert. We document the worsening of various income inequality indexes and we estimate poverty rates and headcounts. We then analyze some of the central robust determinants of economic growth reported by Sala-i-Martin, Doppelhofer and Miller (2003) and project the annual growth rates Africa would have enjoyed if these key determinants had taken OECD rather than African values. Expensive investment goods, low levels of education, poor health, adverse geography, closed economies, too much public expenditure and too many military conflicts are seen as key explanations of the economic tragedy.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9865.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9865

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  1. William Easterly, 2002. "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550423, December.
  2. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 335-76, October.
  3. Paul Collier & Jan Willem Gunning, 1999. "Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  4. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "Quantifying Absolute Poverty in the Developing World," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 345-61, December.
  5. Ahluwalia, Montek S. & Carter, Nicholas G. & Chenery, Hollis B., 1979. "Growth and poverty in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 299-341, August.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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