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Structural Adjustment and the African Crisis: A Theoretical Appraisal


  • Howard Stein

    () (Department of Economics, Roosevelt University)

  • Machiko Nissanke

    () (Department of Economics, University of London)


This paper locates the chief culprit for the failure of structural adjustment in Africa at the conceptual level rather than the weak implementation capacity of African governments. The neo-classical economic microfoundations, associated intermediate propositions and theories underlying adjustment seriously mis-specify the nature of African economies. Policies are often in conflict due to the inconsistencies within the adjustment model. Despite its name the model excludes vital structural features of African economies. The reliance on neo-classical microfoundations in adjustment leads to a series of errors which preclude the generation of policy options that could significantly develop African countries. Drawing on institutional economic theory, the paper points to an alternative approach aimed at the structural and institutional transformation of African economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard Stein & Machiko Nissanke, 1999. "Structural Adjustment and the African Crisis: A Theoretical Appraisal," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 399-420, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:25:y:1999:i:4:p:399-420

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Wage Dispersion Between and Within U.S. Manufacturing Plants, 1963-1986," NBER Working Papers 3722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-392, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ho, Sin-Yu & Njindan Iyke, Bernard, 2018. "Short- and Long-term Impact of Trade Openness on Financial Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," MPRA Paper 84272, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Judith Tyson & Terry McKinley, 2014. "Financialization and the Developing world:Mapping the Issues," Working papers wpaper38, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
    3. Matthew Lockwood, 2013. "What Can Climate-Adaptation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa Learn from Research on Governance and Politics?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 31(6), pages 647-676, November.

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    JEL classification:

    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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