Introduction to "African Successes: Human Capital"
Chapter in NBER book African Successes, Volume II: Human Capital (2016), Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil, editors (p. 5 - 9)
Volume I in this series deals with some fundamental issues for African development: will there be social peace; can government create (or at least not destroy) legitimate political, economic, and social institutions; is international aid effective; and how will the private sector develop? The issues in Volume II are just as important for economic growth, and arguably even more important for human development. Will there be major improvements in public health, reaching at least some minimally acceptable level? Will girls and women be protected and find opportunities as societies change? And can educational attainment be raised to a level commensurate with hoped-for economic growth? The theme of our research project was African Successes, but this does not mean that we were looking through rose-tinted glasses or trying to put a positive spin on recent developments. Rather the goal was to find and support outstanding researchers who were willing to push forward our understanding of what has worked in Africa – and what will come next. The studies in this book fit nicely within the great NBER tradition of supporting research that uncovers new facts and helps to shift our understanding of how economies actually function.
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This paper was revised on September 15, 2015