nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2018‒02‒12
eight papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. From Corn to Popcorn? Urbanization and Food Consumption in sub-Sahara Africa: Evidence From Rural-Urban Migrants in Tanzania By Lara Cockx; Liesbeth Colen; Joachim De Weerdt
  2. Colonial legacies: shaping African cities By Baruah, Neeraj G.; Henderson, J. Vernon; Peng, Cong
  3. South Africa - a re-emerging player in outward FDI By Judit Kiss
  4. International commodity prices and civil war outbreak: new evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond By Antonio Ciccone
  5. Weather and crime in South Africa By Bruederle, Anna; Peters, Jörg; Roberts, Gareth
  6. Living conditions and well-being: Evidence from African countries By Andrew E. Clark; Conchita D’Ambrosio
  7. Natural Resources and Political Patronage in Africa: An Ethnicity Level Analysis By Nemera Mamo; Sambit Bhattacharyya
  8. The unstable foundations of political stability in Chad By Daniel Eizenga

  1. By: Lara Cockx; Liesbeth Colen; Joachim De Weerdt
    Abstract: There is rising concern that the ongoing wave of urbanization will have profound effects on eating patterns and increase the risk of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. Yet, our understanding of urbanization as a driver of food consumption remains limited and primarily based upon research designs that fail to disentangle the effect of living in an urban environment from other socioeconomic disparities. Data from the Tanzania National Panel Survey, which tracked out-migrating respondents, allow us to compare individuals’ dietary patterns before and after they relocated from rural to urban areas and assess whether those changes differ from household members who stayed behind or moved to a different rural area. We find that individuals who relocated to urban areas experience a much more pronounced shift away from the consumption of traditional staples, and towards more high-sugar, conveniently consumed and prepared foods. Contrary to what is often claimed in the literature, living in an urban environment is not found to contribute positively to the intake of protein-rich foods, nor to diet diversity. Though we do not find a strong association with weight gain, these changes in eating patterns represent a clear nutritional concern regarding the potential longer-term impacts of urbanization. Our results however also indicate that the growth of unhealthy food consumption with urbanization is largely linked to rising incomes. As such, health concerns over diets can be expected to spread rapidly to less-urbanized areas as well, as soon as income growth takes off there. Our findings clearly call for more in-depth research that may help to improve health and food and nutrition security as well as correctly predict food demand and adapt trade, agricultural and development policies.
    Date: 2017
  2. By: Baruah, Neeraj G.; Henderson, J. Vernon; Peng, Cong
    Abstract: Differential institutions imposed during colonial rule continue to affect the spatial structure and urban interactions in African cities. Based on a sample of 318 cities across 28 countries using satellite data on built cover over time, Anglophone origin cities sprawl compared to Francophone ones. Anglophone cities have less intense land use and more irregular layout in the older colonial portions of cities, and more leapfrog development at the extensive margin. Results are impervious to a border experiment, many robustness tests, measures of sprawl, and sub-samples. Why would colonial origins matter? The British operated under indirect rule and a dual mandate within cities, allowing colonial and native sections to develop without an overall plan and coordination. In contrast, integrated city planning and land allocation mechanisms were a feature of French colonial rule, which was inclined to direct rule. The results also have public policy relevance. From the Demographic and Health Survey, similar households, which are located in areas of the city with more leapfrog development, have poorer connections to piped water, electricity, and landlines, presumably because of higher costs of providing infrastructure with urban sprawl.
    Keywords: colonialism; persistence; Africa; sprawl; urban form; urban planning; leapfrog
    JEL: H7 N97 O1 R5
    Date: 2017–11–01
  3. By: Judit Kiss (Institute of World Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
    Abstract: Since 1994 South Africa has been successfully reintegrated into the world economy and has become a capital exporter country. The main carriers of outward FDI are South African multinationals which are not newcomers in the international arena as they started to be internationalised earlier than other emerging markets' MNEs. Their investment decisions are mainly driven by home country push factors fuelled by the economic, social and political legacy of the apartheid regime, however, market, efficiency and strategic asset seeking strategies also play a role. Efficiency seeking motives are expected to become stronger leading to increasing international orientation, development of alliances and networks outside of the country. Though the main destinations of FDI outflow are traditionally the European countries, especially the UK, the Sub-Saharan African region is a developing location as South Africa is aspiring for regional hegemony.
    Keywords: FDI, internationalisation, South African MNEs
    JEL: F21 F23 P45
    Date: 2017–12
  4. By: Antonio Ciccone
    Abstract: A new dataset by Bazzi and Blattman (2014) allows examining the effects of international commodity prices on the risk of civil war outbreak with more comprehensive data. I find that international commodity price downturns sparked civil wars in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another finding with the new dataset is that commodity price downturns also sparked civil wars beyond Sub-Saharan Africa since 1980. Effects are sizable relative to the baseline risk of civil war outbreak. My conclusions contrast with those of Bazzi and Blattman, who argue that the new dataset rejects that commodity price downturns cause civil wars. The reason is that I calculate commodity price shocks using time-invariant (fixed) export shares as commodity weights. Bazzi and Blattman also calculate commodity price shocks using export shares as commodity weights but but the exports shares they use are time-varying. Using time-invariant export shares as commodity weights ensures that time variation in price shocks solely re ects changes in international commodity prices. Price shocks based on time-varying export shares partly re ect (possibly endogenous) changes in the quantity and variety of countries' exports, which jeopardizes causal estimation.
    Keywords: civil wars, commodity price downturns
    JEL: E3 O1 Q1 Q10
    Date: 2018–01
  5. By: Bruederle, Anna; Peters, Jörg; Roberts, Gareth
    Abstract: South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, incurring high cost for society. The present paper examines the effect of weather shocks on various types of crime. Using a 12-year panel data set at monthly resolution on the police ward level, we demonstrate a short-term effect of warmer temperatures on violent crime and thereby offer support for the heat-aggression link as suggested by psychological research. Furthermore, we find evidence for a mid-term effect of weather on crime via agricultural income, which is in line with the economic theory of crime. Our findings have direct policy implications for the design of crime prevention strategies, in which weather forecasts could play an important role.
    Keywords: South Africa,weather,crime,income shocks
    JEL: C33 O55 Q54 R11
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Andrew E. Clark; Conchita D’Ambrosio
    Abstract: We here use five rounds of Afrobarometer data covering more than 100,000 individuals over the 2004-2016 period to explore the link between self-assessed measures of living conditions and objective measures of individual well-being (access to basic needs). These latter are picked up by various indices of deprivation, satisfaction and inequality. We find some evidence of comparisons to those who are better off and to those who are worse off, in terms of access to basic needs, in the evaluation of current living conditions. Overall, however, subjective well-being is mostly absolute in African countries. There is notable heterogeneity by level of development, with the effect of lack of access to basic needs being more pronounced in poorer countries. Equally, comparisons to the better-off are associated with better living conditions in poorer countries, suggesting the existing of a tunnel effect: this latter disappears with economic development.
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Nemera Mamo (Department of Economics, University of Sussex; SOAS, University of London); Sambit Bhattacharyya (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: We investigate the effect of resource discoveries on ethnicity level political patronage in Africa using a large geospatial dataset of 254 ethnic groups in 15 countries over the period 1960 to 2004. We find that the first (or single first) resource discovery in a virgin ethnic homeland increases the share of cabinet posts of that ethnicity. The effect is induced by both expectations and rent. Overall the effect is mainly driven by major mineral discoveries as opposed to oil and gas. The discovery shocks do not trigger monopoly or dominant access to power, autonomy, separatism, and exclusion. Our analysis reveals that point source resource (mineral) rents are far more important political currency than diffuse agricultural commodity rents. Furthermore, by ranking ministries into Top and Bottom levels we find some evidence of window dressing politics. Our results survive a battery of robustness tests and controls.
    Keywords: Resource discovery; Political Patronage; Africa
    JEL: D72 O11
    Date: 2018–01
  8. By: Daniel Eizenga (Sahel Research Group, University of Florida)
    Abstract: Chad has emerged as an important counter-terrorism partner in the Lake Chad Basin and the broader Sahel-Sahara region due to its recent political stability and military contribution to security efforts in these troubled zones. However, a closer look at developments in domestic politics, notably the continued and increasingly severe repression of the political opposition and civil society, suggests that this stability may not be built on solid foundations. This paper considers the role Chad has played in the fight against Boko Haram and other forms of regional violent extremism in an effort to take stock of the current threats the Chadian government faces from external actors. It then investigates growing domestic grievances due to an ongoing fiscal crisis, attacks on civil liberties, and a disrupted electoral calendar which risk escalating and destabilising the current government. The paper argues that the mitigation of these diverse and multi-dimensional security threats, particularly at the domestic level, would benefit from an environment that is more supportive of democratic institutions and the rule of law, thus enhancing the country’s prospects for stability in the short- and long-term.
    Keywords: Boko Haram, Chad, political stability, Sahel, security
    JEL: D74 F5 H56 N47
    Date: 2018–02–07

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