nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2019‒12‒16
three papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. African agricultural mechanization: Myths, realities and an emerging research agenda By Daum, Thomas; Birner, Regina
  2. The Old-Age Security Motive for Fertility: Evidence from the Extension of Social Pensions in Namibia By Pauline Rossi; Mathilde Godard
  3. The challenge of meeting climate change goals while avoiding trade protectionism: A South African case of potentially increasing non-tariff measures through carbon tax By Mmatlou, Kalaba; Sifiso, Ntombela; Bohlmann, Heinrich

  1. By: Daum, Thomas; Birner, Regina
    Abstract: African farm systems remain the least mechanized of all continents. There were substantial state-led efforts to promote agricultural mechanization during the 1960s and 1970s, but these efforts failed, which led to a subsequent neglect of mechanization, both in practice and in academia. In practice, this situation has changed more recently as governments, development practitioners and private companies have re-discovered agricultural mechanization as a top priority. In academia, scholars are also gradually devoting more effort to study mechanization. However, there is still a large gap in the literature from several decades of neglecting mechanization. In this empirical vacuum, several claims around mechanization have emerged in the public debate. While some of them are accurate, many are too simplistic and some are plainly wrong or “myths”. Such popular myths can mislead policies and programs to promote mechanization and lead to adverse effects on farmers. This paper presents a fact check on nine propositions regarding mechanization. Which ones are true? Which ones are false? To answer these questions, the study uses most of the recent literature on mechanization, thereby also providing a review of the current literature on agricultural mechanization in Africa. The paper draws up implications for future research and action.
    Keywords: Agribusiness, Agricultural and Food Policy, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies
    Date: 2019–12–09
  2. By: Pauline Rossi (UvA - University of Amsterdam [Amsterdam], Tinbergen Institute - Tinbergen Institute, CEPR - Center for Economic Policy Research - CEPR); Mathilde Godard (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The old-age security motive for fertility postulates that people's needs for old-age support raise the demand for children. We test this widespread idea using the extension of social pensions in Namibia during the nineties. The reform eliminated inequalities in pension coverage and benefit across regions and ethnic groups. Combining differences in pre-reform pensions and differences in exposure across cohorts, we show that pensions substantially reduce fertility, especially in late reproductive life. This article provides the first quasi-experimental quantification of the old-age security motive. The results suggest that improving social protection for the elderly could go a long way in fostering fertility decline in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Keywords: Fertility,Old-age pensions,Social security,Africa,Difference-in-differences
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Mmatlou, Kalaba; Sifiso, Ntombela; Bohlmann, Heinrich
    Keywords: Environmental Economics and Policy, International Relations/Trade
    Date: 2019–09

This nep-afr issue is ©2019 by Sam Sarpong. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.