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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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    1. Ingersoll, Jonathan E, Jr & Ross, Stephen A, 1992. "Waiting to Invest: Investment and Uncertainty," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 1-29, January.
    2. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474, June.
    3. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-142, March.
    4. Avinash Dixit, 1991. "Analytical Approximations in Models of Hysteresis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 141-151.
    5. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    6. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
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