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An African Growth Trap: Production Technology And The Time-Consistency Of Agricultural Taxation, R&D And Investment

  • McMillan, Margaret S.
  • Masters, William A.

Why do so many African governments consistently impose high tax rates and make little investment in productive public goods, when alternative policies could yield greater tax revenues and higher national income? We posit and test an intertemporal political economy model in which the government sets tax and R&D levels while investors respond with production. Equilibrium policy and growth rates depend on initial cost structure. We find that in many (but not all) African countries, low tax/high investment regimes would be time-inconsistent, primarily because production technology requires relatively large sunk costs. For pro-growth policies to become sustainable, commitment mechanisms or new production techniques would be needed.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/11839
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Paper provided by Agecon Search in its series Miscellaneous Papers with number 11839.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ags:miscpa:11839
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/

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  1. 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 335-76, October.
  2. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
  3. Angela Lusigi & Colin Thirtle, 1997. "Total Factor Productivity And The Effects Of R&D In African Agriculture," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 529-538.
  4. Besley, T., 1992. "Monopsony and Time-Consistency : Sustainable Pricing Policies for Perennial Grops," Papers 159, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  5. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Productivity Convergence and Measurement across Industries and Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1216-38, December.
  6. Deaton, A-S & Miller, R-I, 1995. "International Commodity Prices, Macroeconomic Performance, and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa," Princeton Studies in International Economics 79, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  8. Masters, William A. & Bedingar, Touba & Oehmke, James F., 1998. "The impact of agricultural research in Africa: aggregate and case study evidence," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 19(1-2), pages 81-86, September.
  9. Alston, Julian M. & Wyatt, T. J. & Pardey, Philip G. & Marra, Michele C. & Chan-Kang, Connie, 2000. "A meta-analysis of rates of return to agricultural R & D: ex pede Herculem?," Research reports 113, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  11. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  12. Fulginiti, Lilyan E. & Perrin, Richard K., 1997. "LDC agriculture: Nonparametric Malmquist productivity indexes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 373-390, August.
  13. Hertel, Thomas W & Masters, William A & Elbehri, Aziz, 1998. "The Uruguay Round and Africa: A Global, General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 7(2), pages 208-36, July.
  14. Richard J. Gilbert & David M. Newbery, 1994. "The Dynamic Efficiency of Regulatory Constitutions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(4), pages 538-554, Winter.
  15. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Trade Policy and Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," NBER Working Papers 6562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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