The Economic Tragedy of the XXth Century: Growth in Africa
NBER Working Paper No. 9865
The dismal growth performance of Africa is the worst economic tragedy of the XXth century. We document the evolution of per capita GDP for the continent as a whole and for subset of countries south of the Sahara desert. We document the worsening of various income inequality indexes and we estimate poverty rates and headcounts. We then analyze some of the central robust determinants of economic growth reported by Sala-i-Martin, Doppelhofer and Miller (2003) and project the annual growth rates Africa would have enjoyed if these key determinants had taken OECD rather than African values. Expensive investment goods, low levels of education, poor health, adverse geography, closed economies, too much public expenditure and too many military conflicts are seen as key explanations of the economic tragedy.