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Root Causes of African Underdevelopment

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  • Sambit Bhattacharyya

Abstract

What are the root causes of Africa's current state of under-development? Is it the long history of slave trade, the legacy of extractive colonial institutions, or the fallout of malaria? We investigate the relative contributions of these factors using Atlantic distance, Indian Ocean distance, Saharan distance, Red Sea distance, log settler mortality and malaria ecology as instruments. The results show that malaria matters the most and all other factors are statistically insignificant. Malaria also negatively affects savings. The results are robust even when the malaria ecology instrument is replaced by frost, humidity and rainfall and when the latter are used as additional control variables. We find that frost alone is enough to knock off the effects of slave trade and institutions on long-term development in Africa. Copyright 2009 The author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2009. "Root Causes of African Underdevelopment," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(5), pages 745-780, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:745-780
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Chowdhury, Abdur, 2011. "The Development Effects of Natural Resources: A Geographical Dimension," Working Papers and Research 2011-09, Marquette University, Center for Global and Economic Studies and Department of Economics.
    2. Augustin Kwasi Fosu, 2013. "Growth of African Economies: Productivity, Policy Syndromes and the Importance of Institutions," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 523-551, August.
    3. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2011. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(7), pages 817-831, December.
    4. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2015. "The Curse of Being Landlocked: Institutions Rather than Trade," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(10), pages 1594-1617, October.
    5. Rodolfo Manuelli, 2011. "Disease and Development: The Role of Human Capital," Working Papers 2011-008, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    6. Graziella Bertocchi & Andrea Guerzoni, 2010. "Growth, History, or Institutions? What Explains State Fragility in Sub-Saharan Africa," Department of Economics 0625, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    7. Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2011. "Growth Miracles and Growth Debacles," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13609.
    8. Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich, 2017. "The African origins of Euro-American development: Pins on an empirical roadmap," MPRA Paper 79925, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. EZZAHIDI, Elhadj & El Alaoui, Aicha, 2015. "Determinants of the recent growth surge in Africa: what changed since mid-1990s?," MPRA Paper 67792, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Jean-Claude Berthelemy & Josselin Thuilliez, 2014. "The economics of malaria in Africa," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01045213, HAL.
    11. Fabrizio Carmignani & Abdur Chowdhury, 2010. "Why are natural resources a curse in Africa, but not elsewhere?," Discussion Papers Series 406, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    12. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    13. Thomas K.J. McDermott, 2013. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the origins of comparative development: A finite mixture model approach," GRI Working Papers 130, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    14. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Mandeville, Thomas, 2014. "Never been industrialized: A tale of African structural change," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 124-137.
    15. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2014. "Education, paludisme et moustiquaires imprégnées d'insecticide en Afrique sub-saharienne," MPRA Paper 55913, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Fabrizio Carmignani & Abdur Chowdhury, 2012. "The Geographical Dimension of the Development Effects of Natural Resources," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 52(4), pages 479-498, August.
    17. Bhattacharyya, Sambit, 2012. "Trade liberalization and institutional development," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 253-269.
    18. Voxi Heinrich AMAVILAH, 2016. "Social Obstacles to Technology, Technological Change, and the Economic Growth of African Countries: Some Anecdotal Evidence from Economic History," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 320-340, June.
    19. Margherita Bottero & Björn Wallace, 2013. "Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 30, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    20. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Benedicte Apouey, 2013. "Individuals’ Preventive Behavioral Response to Changes in Malaria Risks and Government Interventions: Evidence from six African countries," Working Papers 0313, University of South Florida, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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