IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reviving Economic Growth in Liberia


  • Steve Radelet



Liberia was decimated by 25 years of gross economic mismanagement and 14 years of brutal civil war. GDP fell by over 90% in less than two decades, one of the largest economic collapses in the world since World War II. This paper explores the challenges in reinvigorating rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth in the post-war environment. It stresses the importance of not just re-igniting growth, but rebuilding the economy in a way that avoids the substantial income concentration of the past and creates significant economic opportunities to groups that were marginalized and excluded in the past. It examines the new government’s progress so far, including the major steps it has taken in its first 18 months and the unique way that it has organized government-donor relations. The paper traces the extent of Liberia’s collapse compared to other African countries, and examines the patterns of post-conflict recovery in several other African cases as a basis for examining the potential for renewed growth in Liberia. It suggests that Liberia’s recovery is likely to proceed in three phases (i) an immediate phase driven by donor flows and a rebound in urban services, (ii) the renewal of traditional natural resource-based activities, and (iii) medium-term development of downstream processed products, other manufactures, and services that can compete on global markets. The paper argues that the single highest priority for the economy is rebuilding infrastructure, and especially roads, which are crucial to nearly every aspect of Liberia’s recovery: maintaining security, connecting farmers to markets, creating jobs, opening concession areas, reducing costs for manufacturing, and effectively delivering basic health and education services. Financing road construction is a major challenge, however, since most donors provide relatively little financing for roads compared to other activities. Other key issues are effectively managing natural resource production in order to gain the key benefits and avoid some problems that other countries have faced, improve the business climate, and invest in education and training programs to improve the skills of Liberian workers over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Steve Radelet, 2007. "Reviving Economic Growth in Liberia," Working Papers 133, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:133

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2008. "Liberia - Tapping Nature’s Bounty for the Benefits of All : Diagnostic Trade Integration Study, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8028, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Liberia; post-conflict development;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:133. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Publications Manager). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.