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Root Causes of African Underdevelopment

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  • Sambit Bhattacharyya

    () (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Abstract

What is the root cause of Africa’s current state of under-development? Is it the long history of slave trade, or the legacy of extractive colonial institutions, or the fallout of malaria? A precise answer still eludes us. This paper investigates the relative contribution of these historical factors using an instrumental variable approach. The results show that malaria matters the most and all other factors are statistically insignificant. The mechanism through which malaria impacts economic performance is demonstrated by a strong negative relationship between malaria and national savings and a two period overlapping generation model. The model shows that high malaria incidence adversely affects growth by increasing both mortality and morbidity. Increased mortality from malaria induces households to increase current consumption and save less for the future. Increased morbidity on the other hand adversely affects labour productivity. The combined impact of these two effects is a slowdown of capital accumulation and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2007. "Root Causes of African Underdevelopment," Working Papers in Economics and Development Studies (WoPEDS) 200704, Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University, revised Apr 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:unp:wpaper:200704
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2015. "The Curse of Being Landlocked: Institutions Rather than Trade," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(10), pages 1594-1617, October.
    2. Rodolfo Manuelli, 2011. "Disease and Development: The Role of Human Capital," Working Papers 2011-008, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich, 2017. "The African origins of Euro-American development: Pins on an empirical roadmap," MPRA Paper 79925, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Jean-Claude Berthelemy & Josselin Thuilliez, 2014. "The economics of malaria in Africa," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01045213, HAL.
    5. Thomas K.J. McDermott, 2013. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the origins of comparative development: A finite mixture model approach," GRI Working Papers 130, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    6. Fabrizio Carmignani & Abdur Chowdhury, 2012. "The Geographical Dimension of the Development Effects of Natural Resources," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 52(4), pages 479-498, August.
    7. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    8. Bhattacharyya, Sambit, 2012. "Trade liberalization and institutional development," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 253-269.
    9. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Mandeville, Thomas, 2014. "Never been industrialized: A tale of African structural change," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 124-137.
    10. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Chowdhury, Abdur, 2011. "The Development Effects of Natural Resources: A Geographical Dimension," Working Papers and Research 2011-09, Marquette University, Center for Global and Economic Studies and Department of Economics.
    11. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2011. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(7), pages 817-831, December.
    12. Graziella Bertocchi & Andrea Guerzoni, 2010. "Growth, History, or Institutions? What Explains State Fragility in Sub-Saharan Africa," Department of Economics 0625, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    13. Augustin Kwasi Fosu, 2013. "Growth of African Economies: Productivity, Policy Syndromes and the Importance of Institutions," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 523-551, August.
    14. Margherita Bottero & Björn Wallace, 2013. "Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 30, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    15. Voxi Heinrich AMAVILAH, 2016. "Social Obstacles to Technology, Technological Change, and the Economic Growth of African Countries: Some Anecdotal Evidence from Economic History," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 320-340, June.
    16. Sambit Bhattacharyya, 2011. "Growth Miracles and Growth Debacles," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13609, April.
    17. Fabrizio Carmignani & Abdur Chowdhury, 2010. "Why are natural resources a curse in Africa, but not elsewhere?," Discussion Papers Series 406, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    18. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2014. "Education, paludisme et moustiquaires imprégnées d'insecticide en Afrique sub-saharienne," MPRA Paper 55913, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Benedicte Apouey, 2013. "Individuals’ Preventive Behavioral Response to Changes in Malaria Risks and Government Interventions: Evidence from six African countries," Working Papers 0313, University of South Florida, Department of Economics.
    20. EZZAHIDI, Elhadj & El Alaoui, Aicha, 2015. "Determinants of the recent growth surge in Africa: what changed since mid-1990s?," MPRA Paper 67792, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Malaria; Colonial Institutions; Slave Trade; Economic Development;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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