nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2017‒01‒01
seven papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. The impact of commodity terms of trade in Africa: Curse, blessing, or manageable reality? By Claudio Loser; Ieva Vilkelyte
  2. An Empirical Exploration of the Near-Term and Persistent Effects of Conflict on Risk Preferences By Marc Rockmore; Christopher B. Barrett; Jeannie Annan
  3. A Poor Means Test? Econometric Targeting in Africa By Caitlin Brown; Martin Ravallion; Dominique van de Walle
  4. LARGE SCALE LAND INVESTMENTS AND FORESTS IN AFRICA By Caterina Conigliani; Nadia Cuffaro; Giovanna D'Agostino
  5. Poverty graduation with cash transfers: a randomized evaluation By Vilas J. Gobin; Paulo Santos; Russell Toth
  6. Riots and the window of opportunity for coup plotters: Evidence on the link between urban protests and coups d'état By Gerling, Lena
  7. Imported Intermediates, Absorptive Capacity and Productivity: Evidence from Ghanaian Manufacturing Firms By Luke Emeka Okafor; Mita Bhattacharya; Harry Bloch

  1. By: Claudio Loser (Centennial Group International and the Emerging Markets Forum); Ieva Vilkelyte (Centennial Group International & Emerging Markets Forum)
    Date: 2016–07
  2. By: Marc Rockmore (Clark University); Christopher B. Barrett (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Cornell University); Jeannie Annan (International Rescue Committee, New York, and Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston)
    Abstract: A burgeoning empirical literature on the effects of conflict on various economic behavioral parameters exhibits mixed results, with respect to both the magnitude and the direction of the effects. By estimating the distribution of estimated effects of violence on risk preferences, rather than just the average effect, we reconcile the discordant results of the prior literature. The distribution also reveals substantial and previously overlooked variation in the effects of exposure. This raises questions about the widespread use of aggregated measures of exposure to violence in conflict literature. We use panel data from northern Uganda, the latest round collected seven years after the violence ended, to explore the heterogeneous effects of different experiences of violence – personal suffering, perpetration, witness, or indirect experience through family members’ suffering – on different measures of ambiguity and risk aversion, correcting for many of the methodological shortcomings of previous studies. We find that violence has an adverse near-term effect on mental health, but with heterogeneous effects on risk aversion depending on the nature of one’s experience of violence. We also find that the risk preference effects persist even after a recovery in mental health.
    Date: 2016–10
  3. By: Caitlin Brown; Martin Ravallion; Dominique van de Walle
    Abstract: Proxy-means testing is a popular method of poverty targeting with imperfect information. In a now widely-used version, a regression for log consumption calibrates a proxy-means test score based on chosen covariates, which is then implemented for targeting out-of-sample. In this paper, the performance of various proxy-means testing methods is assessed using data for nine African countries. Standard proxy-means testing helps filter out the nonpoor, but excludes many poor people, thus diminishing the impact on poverty. Some methodological changes perform better, with a poverty-quantile method dominating in most cases. Even so, either a basic-income scheme or transfers using a simple demographic scorecard are found to do as well, or almost as well, in reducing poverty. However, even with a budget sufficient to eliminate poverty with full information, none of these targeting methods brings the poverty rate below about three-quarters of its initial value. The prevailing methods are particularly deficient in reaching the poorest.
    JEL: I32 I38 O15
    Date: 2016–12
  4. By: Caterina Conigliani; Nadia Cuffaro; Giovanna D'Agostino
    Abstract: Recent years have witnessed an increasing interest in land-based investments for food, feed, fuel and fiber, driven by volatility in commodity prices, economic growth of emerging economies, policy drivers of biofuel demand and investor strategies in the wake of the global economic crisis. This has led to a surge of foreign and local investments in developing countries, where land can be obtained at lower cost, and has led to fears of land grabbing. In this paper we consider the problem of identifying the determinants of large scale land acquisitions in Africa, and employ unilateral beta regression to explore the link between investments and a number of indicators related both to land supply and to institutional features. The results on the resource seeking nature of investments and on the impact of the land governance indicators are mostly in line with the findings of other studies; on the contrary, the results on forest land being a driver for large scale land acquisitions in Africa differ from previous findings, and indicate commercial pressure on African forests that may lead to accelerating degradation and deforestation.
    Keywords: beta regression, foreign direct investments, land grabbing, large scale land acquisitions
    JEL: F21 O13
  5. By: Vilas J. Gobin; Paulo Santos; Russell Toth
    Abstract: We examine the impact of the Rural Entrepreneur Access Program (REAP), a poverty graduation program that combines multiple interventions with the aim of promoting en- trepreneurship among ultra-poor women. The program emphasizes cash transfers (rather than asset transfers) to ultra-poor women, in addition to business skills training, business mentoring and savings. Participation in each of three rounds of the program was randomly determined through a public lottery. In the short-to-medium-run we find that the program has a positive and significant impact on income, savings, asset accumulation, and food security that are similar to more traditional poverty graduation programs that rely on asset transfers.
    Keywords: Poverty graduation, Cash transfers, Entrepreneurship, Ultra-poor, Field ex- periment, Africa
    JEL: C93 D13 J24 O12 O13 Q12
    Date: 2016–11
  6. By: Gerling, Lena
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of urban protests on coup attempts in a sample of 39 Sub- Saharan African countries for the period 1990 to 2007. Widespread public discontent, especially when occurring in urban centers, can act as a trigger of coups d'état in autocratic regimes by opening a window of opportunity for leadership removals by the ruling elite. The main difficulty in testing this relationship is that public revolts are rarely exogenous to coup risk. To address this problem, variation in rainfall is used to create an instrument for urban protests. The results show that rainfall-related popular uprisings in urban areas increase the likelihood of a coup attempt and thus help to solve the collective-action problems associated with coup plots.
    Keywords: coup d'état,public protest,regime change,autocracy
    JEL: C26 D74 P16
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Luke Emeka Okafor; Mita Bhattacharya; Harry Bloch
    Abstract: This paper analyses whether the use of imported intermediates improves productivity using firm-level panel data of manufacturing firms in Ghana covering the period between 1991 and 2002. This includes examining the importance of absorptive capacity in enhancing the productivity gains from imported intermediates. We propose lagged relative productivity as a new measure of absorptive capacity (ABC). For any given period, ABC is defined as the natural logarithm of a firm’s total factor productivity in the previous period relative to the firm’s initial total factor productivity. An alternative measure of ABC considers real value added per worker in lieu of total factor productivity. Overall, we find that firms with high levels of absorptive capacity derive productivity gains from the contemporaneous and prior use of imported intermediates, particularly for firms operating in the input-intensive industries. Our findings are robust to different specifications of the base model and different estimation techniques.
    Keywords: Trade, Absorptive capacity, Productivity, Manufacturing, Imported intermediates,Ghana.
    JEL: F14 D22 D24 O33
    Date: 2016–11

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