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Is African manufacturing skill-constrained?

  • Pack, Howard
  • Paxson, Christina

Total factor productivity has been low in most Sub-Saharan Africa. It is often said that the binding constraint on African industrial development is the inadequate supply of technologically capable workers. And many cross-country studies imply that the low level of human capital in Africa is an important source of low growth in per capita income. The results of the authors'study do not necessarily conflict with this view. They indicate that in non-competitive industrial sectors, with little inflow of new technology, the contribution of technological abilities, however it is measured, is limited. If liberalization of the economy generated greater competition, or if export growth were accelerated --permitting the import of inputs embodying new technology - local skills could contribute significantly more in raising output. The experience of other countries also suggests that as the economy opens to flows of international knowledge - whether through technology transfers or through informal transfers from purchasers of export - the technological capacity of local industry becomes important. The policy implications of this analysis are clear: Without the prospect of a more competitive environment, continued efforts to develop high-level industrial skills may be wasteful. But the absence of such skills may limit the benefits to the industrial sector from future liberalization, as a result of which the supply response toimproved incentives may be weak.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2212.

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Date of creation: 31 Oct 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2212
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  1. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "Losers and Winners in Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "Learning-by-Exporting" Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," NBER Working Papers 5715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jolliffe, Dean, 1998. "Skills, Schooling, and Household Income in Ghana," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 81-104, January.
  4. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Why Are There Returns to Schooling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 153-58, May.
  5. Jan Willem Gunning & Paul Collier, 1999. "Explaining African Economic Performance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 64-111, March.
  6. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Technical Change and Human Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence from the Green Revolution," Home Pages _065, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
  9. Kyu Sik Lee & Anas, Alex, 1989. "Manufacturers'responses to infrastructure deficiencies in Nigeria : private alternatives and policy options," Policy Research Working Paper Series 325, The World Bank.
  10. Teitel, Simon & Colman Sercovich, Francisco, 1984. "Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 12(5-6), pages 645-660.
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