nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2019‒04‒08
four papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. Decolonizing with data: The cliometric turn in African economic history By Johan Fourie; Nonso Obikili
  2. Struggling to Make the Grade: A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Weak Outcomes of South Africa’s Education System By Montfort Mlachila; Tlhalefang Moeletsi
  3. The Chinese are Here: Firm Level Analysis of Import Competition and Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa By Darko, Christian K.; Occhiali, Giovanni; Vanino, Enrico
  4. Challenges in predicting poverty trends using survey to survey imputation. Experiences from Malawi By Astrid Mathiassen; Bjørn K. Wold

  1. By: Johan Fourie (LEAP, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Nonso Obikili (LEAP, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: Our understanding of Africa's economic past -- the causes and consequences of precolonial polities, the slave trade, state formation, the Scramble for Africa, European settlement, and independence -- has improved markedly over the last two decades. Much of this is the result of the cliometric turn in African economic history, what some have called a `renaissance'. Whilst acknowledging that cliometrics is not new to African history, this chapter examines the major recent contributions, noting their methodological advances and dividing them into four broad themes: persistence of deep traits, slavery, colonialism and independence. We conclude with a brief bibliometric exercise, noting the lack of Africans working at the frontier of African cliometrics.
    Keywords: Africa, history, poverty, reversal of fortunes, sub-Saharan, trade, slavery, colonialism, missionaries, independence
    JEL: N01 N37 O10
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Montfort Mlachila; Tlhalefang Moeletsi
    Abstract: While South Africa has made significant improvements in basic and tertiary education enrollment, the country still suffers from significant challenges in the quality of educational achievement by almost any international metric. The paper finds that money is clearly not the main issue since the South Africa’s education budget is comparable to OECD countries as a percent of GDP and exceeds that of most peer sub-Saharan African countries in per capita terms. The main explanatory factors are complex and multifaceted, and are associated with insufficient subject knowledge of some teachers, history, race, language, geographic location, and socio-economic status. Low educational achievement contributes to low productivity growth, and high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Drawing on the literature, the paper sketches some policy considerations to guide the debate on what works and what does not.
    Keywords: Education spending;Education policy;Public expenditures and education;Primary education;Higher education;educational attainment;quality of education;education reforms;South Africa;der;learner performance;learner;Popova;matric
    Date: 2019–03–01
  3. By: Darko, Christian K.; Occhiali, Giovanni; Vanino, Enrico
    Abstract: This study uses firm level data on 19 Sub-Saharan Africa countries between 2004 and 2016 to provide a rigorous analysis on the impact of Chinese import competition on productivity, skills, and performance of firms., We measure import competition and ports accessibility at the city-industry level to identify the relevance of firms’ location in determining the impact of Chinese imports competition. To address endogeneity concerns, a time-varying instrument for Chinese imports based on the interaction between an exogenous geographic characteristic and a shock in transportation technology is developed. The results show that imports competition has a positive impact on firm performance, mainly in terms of productivity catch-up and skills upgrading. Of particular interest is the finding that the effects of import competition from China are stronger for more remote firms that have lower port accessibility, an indication that Chinese imports in remote areas improves productivity of laggard firms, employment, and intensity of skilled workers. Our findings indicate that African firms are improving their performance as a consequence of the higher Chinese import intensity, mainly through direct competition and the use of higher quality inputs of production sourced from China.
    Keywords: Research Methods/ Statistical Methods
    Date: 2018–05–24
  4. By: Astrid Mathiassen; Bjørn K. Wold (Statistics Norway)
    Abstract: Poverty in low-income countries is usually measured with large and infrequent household surveys. A challenge is to find methods to measure poverty more frequently. The objective of this study is to test a method for predicting poverty, based upon a statistical model utilizing consumption surveys and light annual surveys. A decade of poverty predictions and regular poverty estimates in Malawi provides us with a unique real-life experience to better understand the suitability of such approaches to monitor trends in poverty. The analysis from Malawi suggests that a modelling approach works per se, given that information on the household’s demographic composition is included in the model. The main challenge when predicting onto other surveys seems to be related to comparability between the surveys. Differences in implementation, questionnaire design and survey sample size are aspects that may contribute to incomparability of data collected between the surveys.
    Keywords: Survey-to-survey imputation; poverty measurement; poverty model; household surveys; Malawi
    JEL: C21 C81 D12 I3
    Date: 2019–03

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