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Growth Variability among and within African Countries: An Aspect of Unsustained Development


  • John Weeks

    () (Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK)


There is a considerable literature on the growth performance of the sub-Saharan countries, which tends to focus on average rates of growth over shorter or longer periods. This paper demonstrates that a key characteristic of the countries of the sub-Saharan region is the instability of growth rates, across countries, but, even more, for individual countries over time. The dispersion of country growth rates is not normally distributed; on the contrary, measures of dispersion are negatively correlated with long-term growth rates. It is argued that this instability, greater than in other regions, is the result of underdevelopment. Reducing instability is a task of long-run development policy, rather than short-term macro management. Further, it is probably the case that aspects of market deregulation make very poor countries more prone to instability.

Suggested Citation

  • John Weeks, 2001. "Growth Variability among and within African Countries: An Aspect of Unsustained Development," Working Papers 115, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:soa:wpaper:115

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