Africa's growth prospects in a European mirror : a historical perspective

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Broadberry, S. N. ; Gardner, Leigh
  • Publisher: Department of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Subject: DT | HB | HC

Drawing on recent quantitative research on Europe reaching back to the\ud medieval period, and noting a relationship between the quality of institutions and\ud economic growth, this paper offers a reassessment of Africa’s growth prospects.\ud Periods of positive growth driven by trade, followed by growth reversals which wiped\ud out the gains of the previous boom, characterized pre-modern Europe as well as\ud twentieth century Africa. Since per capita incomes in much of sub-Saharan Africa are\ud currently at the level of medieval Europe, which did not make the breakthrough to\ud modern economic growth until the nineteenth century, we caution against too\ud optimistic a reading of Africa’s recent growth experience. Without the institutional\ud changes necessary to facilitate structural change, growth reversals continue to pose a\ud serious threat to African prosperity. Only if growth continues after a downturn in\ud Africa’s terms of trade can we be sure that the corner has been turned.
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