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Liberalisation and poverty in Africa since 1990-Why is the operation of the 'invisible hand' uneven?


  • Paul Mosley

    (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield UK)

  • Blessing Chiripanhura

    (Office for National Statistics, Newport, Wales, UK)


The dramatic reduction in poverty in Uganda and Ghana in the 1990s was derived largely from the liberalisation of the export price received by a labour-intensive peasant export sector. Other African economies ought to be able to derive inspiration from this manifestation of the invisible hand, but can they? Several other African peasant export economies experienced price liberalisation during the structural adjustment period, but without experiencing anything like the same positive poverty reduction dynamic. Two reasons are fairly clear-liberalising countries varied in the extent to which they passed on higher export prices, and they also varied in the extent to which they impacted on dimensions of governance, especially the politics of market access, in the rest of the economy. The latter continues to be an important research frontier for future investigators. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Mosley & Blessing Chiripanhura, 2009. "Liberalisation and poverty in Africa since 1990-Why is the operation of the 'invisible hand' uneven?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 749-756.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:21:y:2009:i:6:p:749-756 DOI: 10.1002/jid.1611

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
    2. John J Matovu & Duanjie Chen & Ritva Reinikka-Soininen, 2001. "A Quest for Revenue and Tax Incidence in Uganda," IMF Working Papers 01/24, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 2001. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 261-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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), vol. 6(3), pages 335-376, October.
    5. Edward Miguel, 2009. "Africa's Turn?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012898, July.
    6. L. Alan Winters, 2000. "Trade Liberalisation and Poverty," PRUS Working Papers 07, Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, University of Sussex.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Mosley, 2012. "The politics of what works for the poor in public expenditure and taxation: a review," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-011-12, BWPI, The University of Manchester.

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