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Saving in Sub-Saharan Africa

Listed author(s):
  • Ernest Aryeetey
  • Christopher Udry
Registered author(s):

    Gross domestic savings in Africa averaged only 8 percent of GDP in the 1980s, compared to 23 percent for Southeast Asia and 35 percent in the Newly Industrialized Economies. Aside from being generally low, saving rates in most of Africa have shown consistent decline over the last thirty years. These savings figures must be considered tentative, because they are derived as a residual in the national accounts from expenditure and production data that are themselves quite unreliable. Notwithstanding the problems of measurement, it is clear that savings are dominated by household savings. Survey evidence in turn shows that household savings are primarily in the form of non-financial assets. Financial savings are predominantly directed to informal markets and institutions. The paper documents these trends and provides a simple model of portfolio allocation to guide future research. It is suggested that an array of transaction costs associated with formal financial markets, coupled with the risk management strategies and production activities of households in Africa account for the patterns of saving and portfolio allocation observed in the data.

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    File URL: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/centers/cid/files/publications/faculty-working-papers/038.pdf
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    Paper provided by Center for International Development at Harvard University in its series CID Working Papers with number 38A.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2000
    Handle: RePEc:cid:wpfacu:38a
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    1. Fafchamps, Marcel & Udry, Christopher & Czukas, Katherine, 1998. "Drought and saving in West Africa: are livestock a buffer stock?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 273-305, April.
    2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1989. "Financial Markets and Development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(4), pages 55-68, Winter.
    3. Christopher Udry, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526.
    4. Alderman, H. & Paxson, C.H., 1992. "Do the Poor Insure? A Synthesis of the Literature on Risk and Consumption in Developing Countries," Papers 164, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    5. S. I. Ikhide, 1996. "Commercial bank offices and the mobilisation of private savings in selected sub-Saharan African countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 117-132.
    6. Heston, Alan, 1994. "A brief review of some problems in using national accounts data in level of output comparisons and growth studies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 29-52, June.
    7. Younger, Stephen D, 1992. "Testing the Link between Devaluation and Inflation: Time Series Evidence from Ghana," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 1(3), pages 369-394, November.
    8. Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
    9. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    10. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
    11. Mwega, Francis M, 1997. "Saving in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Analysis," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 199-228, Supplemen.
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