nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2008‒08‒14
thirteen papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
University Amedeo Avogadro

  1. Improving nutrition as a development priority: Addressing undernutrition in national policy processes in Sub-Saharan Africa By Benson, Todd
  2. The Mortality and Morbidity Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Adult Heights By Yoko Akachi; David Canning
  3. Agriculture for development in Ghana: New opportunities and challenges By Breisinger, Clemens; Diao, Xinshen; Thurlow, James; Al-Hassan, Ramatu M.
  4. The Impact of European Settlement within French West Africa. Did pre-colonial prosperous areas fall behind? By Elise Huillery
  5. A Health Production Function for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). By Bichaka Fayissa; Paulos Gutema
  6. Food Crises and Food Markets: Implications for Emergency Response in Southern Africa. By David Tschirley; T.S. Jayne
  7. Informal Institutions and Intergenerational Contracts: Evidence from Schooling and Remittances in Rural Tanzania By David Dreyer Lassen; Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør
  8. Can debt relief lead to development in Africa? By Fikru, Mahelet G; Getachew, Bizuayehu
  9. Human Capital Diversification within the Household: Findings from Rural Tanzania By Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør
  10. Islands through the glass ceiling? Evidence of gender wage gaps in Madagascar and Mauritius By Christophe Nordman; François-Charles Wolff
  11. Access to irrigation and the escape from poverty: Evidence from Northern Mali By Dillon, Andrew
  12. Evaluating alternative policy responses to higher world food prices: The case of increasing rice prices in Madagascar By Coady,David; Dorosh,Paul; Minten,Bart
  13. Sibling Dependence, Uncertainty and Education: Findings from Tanzania By Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør

  1. By: Benson, Todd
    Abstract: "Undernutrition remains a major source of human suffering and an obstacle to national economic and human development in many African countries. This report investigates undernutrition's persistence, drawing on case studies of the public response to the problem in Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda. Analyzing each nation's policymaking structures, political actors, understanding of undernutrition, and the timing of public responses, the author explains why none of these four nations has mounted an effective campaign to eliminate undernutrition. The author identifes several different causes of this shortcoming, with one underlying flaw in the various public responses standing out: a fundamental failure on the part of political leaders to see undernutrition as a grave problem that undermines development efforts in their nations. The author concludes that an effective response to undernutrition in these countries requires the formation of national advocacy coalitions that can raise public awareness of the problem, highlight policymakers' duty to ensure the nutrition of their citizens, and link proper nutrition to general national development. This report should serve as a resource for advocates, researchers, and others concerned with undernutrition in Africa." from Authors' Summary
    Keywords: Nutrition policy, Developing countries, Undernutrition, Nutrition security, Policies,
    Date: 2008
  2. By: Yoko Akachi (European University Institute); David Canning (Harvard School of Public Health)
    Abstract: In most developing countries, rising levels of nutrition and improvements in public health have led to declines in infant mortality and rising adult heights. In Sub-Saharan Africa we see a different pattern. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen large reductions in infant mortality over the last fifty years, but without any increase in protein and energy intake and against a background of stagnant, or declining, adult height. Adult height is a sensitive indicator of the nutrition and morbidity prevailing during the childhood of the cohort and can be taken as a measure of health human capital. Declining infant mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa appear to be driven by medical interventions that reduce infant mortality, rather than by broad based improvements in nutrition and public health measures, and may not be reflective of broad based health improvements.
    Keywords: mortality, Sub-Saharan, morbidity, heights
    Date: 2008–05
  3. By: Breisinger, Clemens; Diao, Xinshen; Thurlow, James; Al-Hassan, Ramatu M.
    Abstract: "This paper has been prepared in support of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) roundtable in Ghana. The study also takes a fresh perspective on the role of agriculture for development in light of the global food crisis. It addresses two main questions: what are the impacts of Green-revolution type agricultural growth to reach the CAADP goal in Ghana? Given the large investments required to achieve such productivity-led growth, what is the sector's contribution to the overall economy? Results from the dynamic computable general equilibrium model suggest that by closing the existing yield gaps in crop production and supporting essential growth in the livestock sector Ghana can achieve CAADP's 6 percent growth target. In this process, agriculture supports the rest of the economy through substantial and largely invisible monetary transfers to the nonagricultural sectors, which are primarily driven by the reduction of domestic food prices. Thus, CAADP growth benefits both rural and urban households, and reduces poverty by more than half within 10 years. However, widening regional disparities between the North and the rest of Ghana will increasingly pose a challenge for the development. Additional measures more targeted towards generating growth in the lagging North will be necessary to bridge the income gap and reach Ghana's poorest of the poor." from Author's Abstract
    Keywords: Agriculture, Poverty, Computable general equilibrium (CGE), Development strategies, Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP),
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Elise Huillery (Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques (PSE), DIAL, Paris)
    Abstract: (english) Did colonization change the distribution of prosperity within French-speaking West Africa? Using a new database on both pre-colonial and colonial contexts, this paper gives evidence that Europeans tended to settle in more prosperous pre-colonial areas and that the European settlement had a strong positive impact on current outcomes, even in an extractive colonial context, resulting in a positive relationship between pre and post-colonial performances. I argue that the African hostility towards colonial power to colonisation provides a random variation in European settlement since it damaged the profitability of colonial activities and dissuaded European from settling, but does not have a direct effect on current outcomes. Rich and hostile areas received less European settlers than they would have received had they not been so hostile, resulting in lower current performances partly due to lower colonial investments. Despite the absence of a “reversal of fortune” within former French West Africa, some of the most prosperous pre-colonial areas lost their advantage because of their hostility: other areas caught up and became the new leaders in the region. _________________________________ (français)
    Keywords: Colonization, Economic history, West Africa.
    JEL: N37 O11 P16
    Date: 2008–07
  5. By: Bichaka Fayissa; Paulos Gutema
    Abstract: The paper estimates a health production function for Sub-Saharan Africa based on the Grossman (1972) theoretical model that treats social, economic, and environmental factors as inputs of the production system. In estimating this function, socioeconomic and environmental factors such as income per capita, illiteracy rate, food availability, ratio of health expenditure to GDP, urbanization rate, and carbon dioxide emission per worker are specified as determinants of health status, proxied by life expectancy at birth. The parameters of the function are estimated by a method of one-way and two-way panel data analyses. The results obtained from two-way random effect model suggest that an increase in income per capita, a decrease in illiteracy rate, an increase in food availability are well associated with improvement in life expectancy at birth. Overall results suggest that a health policy, which may focus on the provision of health, services, family planning programs, and emergency aids to the exclusion of other socioeconomic aspects may do little in efforts directed toward improving the current health status of the region.
    Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, Health expenditure, Production function, Medical care, Panel data.
    JEL: I12 I18
    Date: 2008–08
  6. By: David Tschirley (Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University); T.S. Jayne (Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University)
    Abstract: Southern Africa is an increasing focus of humanitarian concern. The rate of perceived food crises in the region has increased sharply during this decade, with identified crises in 2001/02, 2002/03, and 2005/06. The world commodity price boom that started 18 months ago has accentuated concerns about the potential severity of future crises. This Policy Synthesis summarizes the findings of detailed analysis (Tschirley and Jayne 2007) about the current staple food situation in the region and about how governments have behaved towards markets and regional trade during food crises over the past decade. We then ask whether these responses show evidence of learning from past mistakes. Lastly, we consider how the commodity price boom affects the role of regional trade during food crises and the likely stance of governments in the region towards trade. The analysis concludes that the breach between actual and needed government policy during food crises threatens to become wider than ever as a result of the price boom, and suggests ways in which empirical policy analysis might contribute to closing this gap.
    Keywords: Africa, food security, food policy, Emergency Response, markets, southern africa
    JEL: Q18
    Date: 2008
  7. By: David Dreyer Lassen (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen); Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: This paper carries out a theoretical and empirical investigation of the role of informal institutions in facilitating intergenerational contracts governing investments in schooling and payments of pensions in the form of remittances. We show, using detailed household level data from rural Tanzania, that informal institutions of social control, rooted in tribal affiliations, determine both the household's investment in schooling and the probability that it receives remittances from migrants. This is consistent with a framework in which households' expected returns in the form of remittances, which is determined partly by the prospects of social control over migrants, influence current investments in schooling.
    Keywords: intergenerational contract; social compact; schooling; human capital; traditions; ethnicity; ethnic diversity; social capital; Tanzania; Africa
    JEL: D13 O15
    Date: 2008–08
  8. By: Fikru, Mahelet G; Getachew, Bizuayehu
    Abstract: Abstract Based on data from 14 Highly Indebted Poor African Countries that received debt relief during the decade 1990-2001 (relief decade) the study examines whether this relief was followed by significant improvements in the countries’ development in subsequent years (2000-2004). Using a comparative and econometric approach this paper found that the countries which received the highest relief actually experienced a reduction in their per capita income in subsequent years where as improvements in growth in some of the countries was not necessarily caused by the relief. The paper also shows that real GDP per capita growth rates declined in the largest relief recipient. Another finding of this paper is that those countries with the lowest share in the debt relief showed some improvements which suggests that a significant increase in per capita income could occur without the provision of great debt relief to a HIPC. In addition, even if the freed resources were used for social services such as schooling and health care this had little developmental effects indicating that the resources were not properly directed to productive activities. Thus this paper emphasizes that debt relief is not a sufficient condition for having growth. Debt relief could be correlated with growth but evidences for causation are scant. The research presents evidence that debt relief by itself did not bring about growth in the sub-Saharan sub-continent as doubling amounts of debt relief was followed declining growth rates.
    Keywords: Highly Indebted Poor Countries; Completion point
    JEL: P33 F34 F30
    Date: 2008–02–15
  9. By: Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: Lack of primary schooling among rural children in developing countries is often attributed to credit constraints and household demand for child labour, implying that direct and indirect costs of schooling are high. Surprisingly few studies have considered the importance of parents' expected returns of investing in their childrens human capital, despite the fact that most parents rely on their children for old-age support and subsistence. In this paper, I propose an alternative model for human capital investment based on the household, rather than the individual child, incorporating the fact that parents bear the costs of educating all their children and face uncertainty about the level and share of future returns. This uncertainty can make it optimal for parents to ensure a certain degree of human capital diversification within the household. The model implications allow me to test whether it is the need for diversification or the costs of schooling that dominate the human capital investment decision in rural households. Using extraordinary long panel data from a rural region in Northwestern Tanzania, I find strong empirical evidence of diversification effects for rural sons, but not for rural daughters. Exactly in line with what should be expected for a patrilineal society. This can potentially have far reaching policy implications.
    Keywords: intergenerational contract; social compact; schooling; human capital; traditions; ethnicity; ethnic diversity; social capital; Tanzania; Africa
    JEL: J13 J24 O15
    Date: 2008–08
  10. By: Christophe Nordman (DIAL, IRD, Paris); François-Charles Wolff (LEN, Université de Nantes, CNAV, INED)
    Abstract: (english) Using matched employer-employee data collected in Mauritius and Madagascar in 2005, we add new evidence on the magnitude of the gender wage gap and on the relevance of the glass ceiling hypothesis recently observed in developed countries. We focus more closely on the role of firm characteristics and job segregation across firms as potential factors explaining the gender wage gap. While the magnitude of the adjusted gender gap is almost insignificant in Madagascar and quite high in Mauritius, our results show that accounting for firm heterogeneity in the analysis is important for both islands. We highlight that these firm effects are the result of gender segregation across firms, i.e. the existence of high paying firms for men and low paying firms for women. In addition, there is no compelling evidence of a glass ceiling phenomenon in both islands. This comparative study then suggests that there is a high heterogeneity in Africa with respect to the situation of women in the formal labor market._______________________________________________________________________________A l’aide de données appariées employeurs-employés du secteur formel collectées à l’île Maurice et à Madagascar en 2005, nous estimons l’ampleur de l’écart salarial selon le genre et testons la pertinence de l’hypothèse de plafond de verre récemment observée dans les pays développés. Nous nous intéressons particulièrement aux caractéristiques des entreprises et à la ségrégation professionnelle au sein des firmes en tant que possible déterminants de l’écart salarial entre les sexes. Alors que l’écart salarial ajusté des caractéristiques individuelles est faible à Madagascar, et relativement élevé à l’île Maurice, nos résultats montrent que la prise en compte de l’hétérogénéité des entreprises dans l’analyse est importante pour les deux îles. Nous mettons en évidence que ces effets d’entreprise sont le résultat d’une ségrégation de genre entre les entreprises, c’est-à-dire qu’il existerait des entreprises versant de hauts salaires pour les hommes et des entreprises à bas salaires pour les femmes. En outre, nous n’observons pas de phénomène de plafond de verre sur les revenus pour ces deux pays. Cette étude comparative suggère finalement qu’il existe une forte hétérogénéité en Afrique en ce qui concerne la situation des femmes sur le marché du travail formel.
    Keywords: Gender wage gap, glass ceiling, quantile regressions, matched worker-firm data, Africa, Ecart salarial selon le genre, plafond de verre, régressions de quantiles, données appariées, employeurs-employés, Afrique.
    JEL: J24 J31 O12
    Date: 2008–08
  11. By: Dillon, Andrew
    Abstract: "Significant changes in the agricultural sector in northern Mali suggest that irrigation has made a large contribution to welfare increases over the past eight years. Using difference-in-differences, propensity score matching, and matched difference in differences with a small panel, this study estimates the impact of access to irrigation on poverty, production, and nutrient intakes. The findings suggest that gains in agricultural production value do not transfer uniquely to household consumption. The paper tests two alternative hypotheses about the distribution of agricultural gains: (1) the gains in agricultural production induced by irrigation yield higher household savings, or (2) intra-village transfers from irrigators to non-irrigators contribute to informal social insurance. The paper provides evidence of both saving and sharing within villages as complimentary strategies for consuming gains in agricultural production. This finding suggests that estimating the effects of a program, relying solely on household consumption, may underestimate the welfare gains of irrigation investment by ignoring the household's savings and informal insurance network." from Author's Abstract
    Keywords: Irrigation, Informal insurance, Development strategy,
    Date: 2008
  12. By: Coady,David; Dorosh,Paul; Minten,Bart
    Abstract: "Higher world food prices have led many governments in developing countries to adopt policy measures to mitigate the adverse impact on low-income households. This paper sets out a partial equilibrium framework to evaluate the relative efficiency, distributional, and revenue implications of alternative policy responses. The model is applied to Madagascar data to evaluate the net welfare impact of reductions in rice tariffs and to compare this to the alternative policy of targeted transfers. Lowering tariffs is not a cost-effective approach to protecting low-income households due to substantial leakage of benefits to higher income households and an adverse impact on poor net rice producers even when the substantial efficiency gains from such tariff reductions are incorporated into the analysis. Developing a system of well-designed and -implemented targeted direct transfers to poor households is thus likely to be a substantially more cost-effective approach to poverty alleviation, especially if these can be linked to productivity-enhancing investments. Such an approach should be financed by switching revenue raising from rice tariffs to more efficient tax instruments. These policy conclusions are likely to be robust to the incorporation of general equilibrium considerations." from Author's Abstract
    Keywords: rice, Import tariffs, Targeted transfers, Welfare impacts, Globalization, Markets, Food prices,
    Date: 2008
  13. By: Gabriel Helene Bie Lilleør (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: Primary school enrolment rates are continuously low in many developing countries. The main explanation in the economic literature on schooling is focused on credit constraints and child labour, implying that the indirect cost of schooling in terms of foregone earnings is too high. This paper investigates the effects of future income uncertainty on sibling dependence in the schooling decisions of rural households in developing countries. Schooling tends to direct skills towards future urban employment, whereas traditional rural education or on-farm learning-by-doing tends to direct skills towards future agricultural employment. Given this dichtomy, the question is then: Does future income uncertainty influence the joint educational choice made by parents on behalf of their children and is it possible to test this on simple cross-sectional data? I extend a simple human capital portfolio model to a three period setting. This allows me to explore the natural sequentiality in the schooling decision of older and younger siblings. The model can generate testable empirical implications, which can be taken to any standard cross-sectional data set. I find empirical evidence of negative sibling dependence in the educational decision, which is consistent with a human capital portfolio theory of risk diversification and which cannot be explained by sibling rivalry over scarce resources for credit constrained households. The paper thus provides a complementary explanation to why enrolment rates in developing countries are often continuously low.
    Keywords: schooling; human capital investment; specific human capital; sibling dependency; old-age security; uncertainty; risk and income source diversification; liquidity constraints; Tanzania; Africa
    JEL: J13 J24 O15
    Date: 2008–08

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