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Public Debt, Economic Growth, and Inflation in African Economies


  • Lopes da Veiga, José
  • Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra
  • Sequeira, Tiago


We analyse the implications of public debt on economic growth and inflation in a group of 52 African economies between 1950 and 2012. The results indicate that the limits of public debt affect economic growth and exhibit negatively, from a given level of debt, an inverted U behaviour regarding the relationship between economic growth and public debt. The highest average rates of real and per capita growth are achieved when public debt reaches 60% of the real GDP and an average inflation rate of 8.2%. When this ratio falls between 60-90%, the average rate of economic growth drops by up to 1.32 p.p. and continues dropping by up to 1.64 p.p. when the ratio exceeds 90%. Briefly, the high levels of public debt are reflected in reduced rates of economic growth and rising levels of inflation. Our results for three specific geographical areas resemble those of the overall analysis, despite some differences. In North African countries, the growth rates of the GDP and inflation also show an inverted U behaviour as the ratio of public debt/GDP increases. The highest rate of economic growth is recorded when the ratio public debt/GDP is below 30% of GDP and corresponds to an average inflation rate of 5.33%. Identical behaviour of the GDP growth rates and inflation also appears in Sub-Saharan countries until the third interval (60-90%). However, the highest growth rate of the GDP and GDP per capita is registered when the public debt/GDP ratio is in the second interval (30-60%). For SADC countries, the highest average rate of economic growth (6.8%) is similar to North African countries, when the ratio public debt/GDP is below 30% of GDP, with an average inflation rate of 11%. The high level of public debt is reflected in reduced rates of economic Growth and increasing inflation rates.

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  • Lopes da Veiga, José & Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra & Sequeira, Tiago, 2014. "Public Debt, Economic Growth, and Inflation in African Economies," MPRA Paper 57377, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:57377

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    Cited by:

    1. António Afonso, & Emanuel Reis Leão, & Dilson Tiny, & Diptes C. P. Bhimjee, 2017. "Fiscal Sustainability Analysis: The Case of PALOP Economies," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/14, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.

    More about this item


    Public Debt; Economic Growth; Inflation; African Countries;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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