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Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa: Benchmarking the Constraints

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  • Simon Johnson
  • Jonathan D Ostry
  • Arvind Subramanian

Abstract

A dozen countries had weak institutions in 1960 and yet sustained high rates of growth subsequently. This paper uses data on their characteristics early in the growth process to create benchmarks with which to evaluate potential constraints on sustained growth for sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis suggests that what are usually regarded as first-order problems—broad institutions, macroeconomic stability, trade openness, education, and inequality—may not now be binding constraints, although the extent of ill-health, internal conflict, and societal fractionalization do stand out as problems in contemporary Africa. A key question is to what extent Africa can rely on manufactured exports as a mode of “escape from underdevelopment,” a strategy successfully deployed by almost all the benchmark countries. The benchmarking comparison specifically raises two key concerns as far as a development strategy based on expanding exports of manufactures is concerned: micro-level institutions that affect the costs of exporting, and the level of the real exchange rate—especially the need to avoid overvaluation.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Johnson & Jonathan D Ostry & Arvind Subramanian, 2010. "Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa: Benchmarking the Constraints," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 57(1), pages 119-171, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:57:y:2010:i:1:p:119-171
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2013. "International Trade and Institutional Change," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(5), pages 1145-1181, October.
    2. Nouira, Ridha & Plane, Patrick & Sekkat, Khalid, 2011. "Exchange rate undervaluation and manufactured exports: A deliberate strategy?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 584-601.
    3. Bianka Dettmer & Andreas Freytag & Peter Draper, 2013. "Check-in, departure and arrival times: Air cargo in Southern Africa?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-018, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    4. Arvind Subramanian & Prachi Mishra & Aaditya Mattoo, 2012. "Spillover Effects of Exchange Rates; A Study of the Renminbi," IMF Working Papers 12/88, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Daude, Christian & Levy Yeyati, Eduardo & Nagengast, Arne J., 2016. "On the effectiveness of exchange rate interventions in emerging markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 239-261.
    6. Horváth, Roman & Zeynalov, Ayaz, 2016. "Natural resources, manufacturing and institutions in post-Soviet countries," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 141-148.
    7. Aaditya Mattoo & Arvind Subramanian, 2011. "A China Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations," Working Paper Series WP11-22, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    8. Arslan Ramzi, 2010. "The exchange rate, diversification, and distribution in a modified Ricardian model with a continuum of goods," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2010-06, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    9. Razmi, Arslan, 2012. "The Exchange Rate, Diversification, and Distribution in a Modified Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," ADBI Working Papers 337, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    10. Chang Woon Nam & Sumin Nam & Peter Steinhoff, 2017. "Modi's 'Make in India' Industrial Reform Policy and East Asian Flying-Geese Paradigm," CESifo Working Paper Series 6431, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Campbell, Douglas L., 2016. "Measurement matters: Productivity-adjusted weighted average relative price indices," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 45-81.
    12. Berg, Andrew & Ostry, Jonathan D. & Zettelmeyer, Jeromin, 2012. "What makes growth sustained?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 149-166.
    13. repec:oup:jafrec:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:10-27. is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Ila Patnaik & Abhijit Sen Gupta & Ajay Shah, 2012. "Determinants of Trade Misinvoicing," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 23(5), pages 891-910, November.
    15. Amrit Amirapu & Arvind Subramanian, 2015. "Manufacturing or Services? An Indian Illustration of a Development Dilemma," Working Papers id:7521, eSocialSciences.
    16. Gelb, Alan & Meyer, Christian J. & Ramachandran, Vijaya, 2014. "Development as diffusion: Manufacturing productivity and sub-Saharan Africa.s missing middle," WIDER Working Paper Series 042, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    17. Roman Horváth & Ayaz Zeynalov, 2014. "The Natural Resource Curse in Post-Soviet Countries : The Role of Institutions and Trade Policies," Working Papers 341, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    18. Alan Gelb, Christian Meyer, and Vijaya Ramachandran, 2014. "Development as Diffusion: Manufacturing Productivity and Sub-Saharan Africa’s Missing Middle - Working Paper 357," Working Papers 357, Center for Global Development.
    19. Hochman, Gal & Tabakis, Chrysostomos & Zilberman, David, 2013. "The impact of international trade on institutions and infrastructure," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 126-140.
    20. Ahlerup, Pelle & Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Bigsten, Arne, 2016. "Government Impartiality and Sustained Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 54-69.
    21. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

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