Julia Cagé, Valeria Rueda, 17 March 2018

HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa is often shaped by the influence of Christian churches, tending to focus on abstinence rather than safer sexual behaviour. This column investigates the relationship between historical Christian missionary activities and HIV prevalence today. Regions close to missions in general tend to exhibit higher HIV prevalence, an effect that is driven by Protestant missions. Regions close to missions that specifically invested in health, however, exhibit lower HIV prevalence today.

Vito Amendolagine, Andrea Presbitero, Roberta Rabellotti, Marco Sanfilippo, 24 January 2018

A new wave of foreign direct investment has swept sub-Saharan African countries, with inflows becoming more diversified both geographically and sectorally. This column presents an analysis that shows a high degree of complementarity between involvement in global value chains and FDI. Policies supporting the entry and upgrading of countries in such chains – especially via a strong institutional setting and a well-educated labour force – can help maximise the spillovers from foreign investment.

Jacob Moscona, Nathan Nunn, James Robinson, 09 January 2018

In recent years, it has become clear that characteristics of pre-colonial African societies are an important determinant of their current economic development. This column evaluates the hypothesis that segmentary lineage organisation – a common social structure among ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa – causes more conflict today. Ethnic groups in Africa with a social structure marked by kinship are found to show a greater propensity for violent conflict.

Caitlin Brown, Dominique van de Walle, Martin Ravallion, 30 March 2017

Policymakers face challenges when trying to identify the right targets for antipoverty programmes. This column assesses whether the data typically available to policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa are up to the task. Commonly used proxy means tests are found to perform worse than simpler methods in identifying poor households. Moreover, analyses of nutritional status reveal substantial inequality within households, suggesting that household-based measures are not very effective in identifying disadvantaged individuals.

Julia Cagé, Valeria Rueda, 04 March 2017

Throughout history, religious change is known to have brought about significant economic change in many countries. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, looks at the effects of the Christian missionary activity that expanded throughout African countries from the middle of the 19th century. It shows how the diversity of investments brought by Christian missionaries to the region had different, and sometimes conflicting, effects on long-term development.

Tessa Bold, 05 December 2015

With the introduction of new technologies such as fertiliser and hybrid seeds, agricultural productivity has experienced an unprecedented rise in the past decades in almost all parts of the world. But not in Sub-Saharan Africa. This column studies the fertilisers available in Sub-Saharan Africa. It turns out that there is a huge variation in terms of fertiliser quality. Farmers should be meaningfully integrated into markets and supply chains to ensure quality and trust.

Haroon Bhorat, Ravi Kanbur, Benjamin Stanwix, 06 October 2015

Most sub-Saharan African countries have adopted minimum wage laws. This column argues that this will become increasingly significant for the economy as a whole as the number of covered workers grows, with possible spillover effects to uncovered sectors. Importantly, sub-Saharan Africa displays a bias towards a more aggressive minimum policy relative to the rest of the world. Perhaps due to this, compliance is not very high and the economic consequences of minimum wages are not particularly strong.

Seema Jayachandran, Rohini Pande, 05 May 2015

Indian children are more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite higher standards of living. This column uses data on child height – an anthropometric measure of net nutrition – from Africa and India to explore how parental gender preferences affect the likelihood of children being malnourished. Indian firstborn sons are found to have a height advantage over African firstborn sons, and the height disadvantage appears first in second-born children, increasing for subsequent births. This suggests that a preference for a healthy male heir influences fertility decisions and how parents allocate resources between their children.

Kym Anderson, Markus Brückner, 07 October 2011

Real income in sub-Saharan Africa has grown by less than 1% per year over the past half century. Yet within this dismal statistic, there is wide variation. This column explores the policy reforms that may have caused growth to flourish or stagnate.

Peter Draper, Andreas Freytag, Matthias Bauer, 16 April 2011

The economic fate of developing countries since the global crisis has been in doubt. In the second of two columns on the “Seoul Consensus”, the authors argue that industrialised economies are not in a position to take the lead in initiatives to strengthen economic policy rationality on a global scale. Emerging economies should take the lead and push for the conclusion of the Doha Round.

Peter Draper, Andreas Freytag, Matthias Bauer, 15 April 2011

The global financial crisis also struck many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, the G20 agreed on a “Seoul Action Plan”, which addresses the problems of the world’s poorest. This column analyses its message for sub-Saharan Africa. It argues that the G20 should really start energising the Doha round, taking fiscal stabilisation seriously, ensuring that exchange rates float, and guaranteeing that quantitative easing stops.

Nicolas Depetris Chauvin, Marcelo Olarreaga, Guido Porto, 11 March 2011

Cash crops provide the livelihoods for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. This CEPR/World Bank book explores the effects of increasing competition in these markets. It finds that while competition improves welfare for farmers on the whole, policymakers should still consider the potential winners and losers in each case.

Nicolas Depetris Chauvin, Guido Porto, 11 March 2011

Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on cash crops for their livelihoods . This column presents a new CEPR/World Bank book exploring the effects of increasing competition in these markets. It finds that while competition improves welfare for farmers on the whole, policymakers should still consider the potential winners and losers in each case.

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.

Nicolas Berman, Philippe Martin, 22 April 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa’s low level of financial development meant that African banks were not directly involved in the credit crunch. But this column warns against rejoicing. If the cost of such low development is that African exporters are very dependent on external trade finance, then the real cost of the global crisis on Africa may actually be higher.

Eliana La Ferrara, 05 December 2008

Eliana La Ferrara of Bocconi University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her research on the causes and consequences of conflict within countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008.

Antonio Ciccone, 28 February 2008

According to theory, demands for democratic change are more likely to be realised during economic downturns, which lower the cost of overthrowing autocrats. This column presents empirical evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa suggesting that recessions may indeed open a window of opportunity for democratisation.

Antonio Ciccone, 07 January 2008

Since World War II, civil wars have killed more people than interstate conflicts. Poverty and low income growth have long been suspected as important causal factors, and new evidence suggests that drops in income raise the likelihood of civil war. However, democratic institutions may significantly alleviate such dangers.


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