David Fine, Susan Lund, 04 December 2012

Africa's recent growth is impressive, yet its rate of stable job creation is anything but. This column argues that Africa needs rapid growth in stable, wage-paying jobs in order to ensure future stable growth and prosperity. African governments must develop and implement targeted jobs strategies – which focus on labour-intensive, competitive industries – to get the most out Africa’s rapid economic emergence.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi, Giovanni Prarolo, 08 December 2012

Islam spread remarkably quickly before the era of European colonialism. This column argues that an important economic factor in determining the geographic range was spatial inequality that necessitated a politically unifying force like Islam. Regions that harboured such economic inequality were especially ripe for a system like Islam that offered progressive redistributive tenets with centralised authority to enforce them.

Ingo Borchert, Batshur Gootiiz, Arti Grover Goswami, Aaditya Mattoo, 29 November 2012

Services trade policies in both the telecommunications and the air transport sector are more restrictive in landlocked than in coastal countries. Why would landlocked countries choose restrictive policies if they have such a big stake in improving international connectivity? This column suggests the explanation could be related to both weak political institutions and adverse location. It adds that trade-facilitating aid will earn a poor return if not accompanied by services reform.

Mohsin Khan, 08 November 2012

Since the Arab Spring, Egypt has seen some political transformation. But what of its economic policy? This column debates whether Egypt, under its newly elected president, will pursue both badly needed short- and long-term economic reform, or succumb to myopic populism.

Monica Eaton, Michael Ferrantino, 04 September 2012

The Eurozone debt crisis is not simply a problem for industrialised countries. This column shows how its effects are being felt throughout Africa.

Elias Papaioannou, Stelios Michalopoulos, 29 July 2012

This paper investigates the role of deep-rooted pre-colonial ethnic institutions in shaping comparative regional development within African countries. The authors find that regional development is significantly higher in the historical homelands of ethnicities with centralised, hierarchical, pre-colonial political institutions.

Jaime de Melo, Alberto Portugal-Perez, 29 May 2012

Joining a global supply chain is one of the few ways for low-income countries to industrialise in today’s competitive market. Rules on their use of imported fabric therefore have important consequences for development. This column exploits a quasi-experimental situation to show that the gains from rich nations applying more relaxed rules on imported inputs are huge – six times greater than the simple act of removing tariffs.

Markus Brückner, Daniel Lederman, 02 May 2012

The recent growth performance in sub-Saharan Africa has been remarkable given that, for over four decades since 1960, real GDP per capita growth had been dismal, averaging less than 0.5% per annum. This column, using within-country variation and instrumental variables, argues that increases in openness to trade are behind this performance.

Paul Brenton, 17 March 2012

Africa trades too little with itself. This column argues that what is needed is an approach that reforms policies that create non-tariff barriers; puts in place appropriate regulations that allow cross-border movement of services suppliers; delivers competitive regionally integrated services markets; and builds the institutions that are necessary to allow small producers and traders to access open regional markets.

Rohini Somanathan, Stefan Dercon, Nzinga Broussard, 27 February 2012

Food aid can prevent starvation – but only if the neediest actually receive it. CEPR DP8861 examines how food aid in Ethiopian villages can be biased away from those who need it most. Households with greater local influence or groups targeted by international agencies often receive more than they need. Knowing more about these biases, the authors conclude, can improve distribution and save lives.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 06 January 2012

The 'Scramble for Africa' – the artificial drawing of African political boundaries among European powers in the end of the 19th century – led to the partitioning of several ethnicities across newly created African states. This columns shows that partitioned ethnic groups have suffered significantly longer and more devastating civil wars. It also uncovers substantial spillovers as ethnic conflict spreads from the historical homeland of groups partitioned to nearby areas where non-split ethnicities reside.

John Whalley, Aaron Weisbrod, 21 December 2011

In the three years before the global crisis, the average GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa was around 6%. This period also saw significant Chinese foreign direct investment flowing into the continent. This column uses growth-accounting methods to assess what portion of this growth can be attributed to Chinese FDI. Although for some countries and years the effects were negligible, some countries saw total GDP growth from 2002 to 2009 increase by 0.5 percentage points due to Chinese FDI alone.

Leandro de la Escosura, 19 October 2011

How has Africa performed over the long-run in terms of wellbeing? This column aims to answer this question by improving the UN’s Human Development Index. By looking at data stretching from 1870 to 2007, it argues that human development in Africa is lower than previously thought and that compared to the developed world, Africa stopped catching up in 1980 and began to fall behind.

Thorsten Beck, 16 September 2011

Financial systems can be a powerful tool for economic development across Africa. This column, which summarises a new report on finance in Africa, argues that in order to become such a tool, more competition, an increased focus on the necessary financial services, and more attention to demand-side constraints are needed.

Quamrul Ashraf, Oded Galor, 01 August 2011

The reasons given for the vast divide in standard of living between different parts of the world are many, with some economic historians claiming the roots lie in the colonial period. This column goes back even further to the cradle of humankind in East Africa, suggesting that the genetic diversity of the tribes that dispersed to different parts of the globe determined their success many thousands of years later.

Helmut Reisen, Jean-Philippe Stijns, 12 July 2011

Many discussions of official development assistance express concerns about China's growing investment and involvement in Africa economies. This column, summarizing the 2011 African Economic Outlook report, emphasizes the benefits of emerging economies' increasing presence in Africa, including the opening of African policy space due to Western donors' decline in relative influence.

Denis Drechsler, 23 April 2011

Smallholders are a defining feature of African agriculture. This column argues that they deserve special attention by donors and policymakers. But simply relying on the smallholder business model is unlikely to prepare African agriculture for future challenges. Instead, smallholders should be supported to engage in commercial farming or to move out of the agricultural sector.

Svetlana Andrianova, Panicos Demetriades, David Fielding, Badi H Baltagi, 25 March 2011

International donors provide large amounts of financial capital to Africa in the form of aid and grants, but there are also large financial flows in the opposite direction. Many African banks invest large sums abroad and lend relatively little to local businesses. This column explains that this is because many banks suffer from a shortage of information about the creditworthiness of some of their customers.

Peter Draper, 01 March 2011

Regional integration in Africa is seen as a priority by many of the continent’s policymakers. This column argues against a formal EU-like structure and instead proposes an African model that is responsive to the economic and political reality of the region. It says that the model should be underpinned by a security regime and should prioritise trade and regulatory cooperation.

Giorgia Giovannetti, Marco Sanfilippo, 23 January 2011

Can developing countries afford large social-protection programmes, such as unemployment benefits or medical insurance? Summarising studies from across Africa, this column finds that such programmes are politically, fiscally, and administratively feasible – even for low-income Sub-Saharan African countries – and on a scale and scope previously thought out of reach.

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