Results for “africa”
939 found

North African assimilation into France

The 2008-9 survey Trajectoires et origines shows that forty-four percent of the descendants of masculine immigrants of Algerian or Moroccan origin have a spouse who is neither an immigrant nor a descendant of immigrants.  The rate rises to 60 percent for those of Tunisian origin, falls to 42 percent for those of Turkish origin, rises back to 65 per cent for those of sub-Saharan African origin (we cannot, in this latter case, distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims).  For women, the rates are a little lower, which is to be expected in disintegrating patrilineal cultures, but they remain at a very high level for those of Algerian (41 per cent), Moroccan (34 per cent) and sub-Saharan African (40 per cent) origin…But while exogamy is not yet a major practice, these groups have clearly been welded to French society…We need at this point to emphasize the speed with which populations from sub-Saharan Africa have integrated…

That is from Emmanuel Todd, Who is Charlie?, pp.162-163.  Here is my previous post on the book.

Do financial crises lie in Africa’s future?

From the FT:

The likes of Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, and Ivory Coast have all issued foreign currency dominated sovereign bonds in recent years.

Ghana is one African nation with a history of debt crises (pdf), and also dating back to the 1980s (pdf).  Tanzania was another offender, both current and past (pdf), and for a while a lot of lending to Africa dried up and that limited the number of possible debt crises.  But now…?

Here is Amadou Sy at Brookings, telling us it is not yet time to worry.  Here is the African Development Bank worrying a bit more than that:

Today, a third of African countries have debt to GDP ratios in excess of 40 percent. The outstanding sovereign debt for Africa as a whole increased 2.6 times between 2009Q2 and 2015Q2. In contrast, total debt in developing countries rose 2.3 times over the same period. The appreciation of the dollar has raised the nominal currency values of dollar denominated debts. Thus Africa’s outstanding bond debt is already 29 percent higher today in real terms than it would have been had the dollar remained at its March 2011 level…

Here is Andrew England at the FT:

A recent note by Fathom Consulting highlighted a 40 per cent year-on-year dip in Chinese imports from Africa for July. Martyn Davies, chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a group that specialises in Africa-China investment, says there is anecdotal evidence of an easing in Chinese activity on the continent. “The hurdle rates of Chinese sovereign wealth investment, or part sovereign wealth fund invested projects in Africa have been raised so the capital is more discerning and seeks greater profitability,” he says.

Here is my previous post on which countries are most likely to experience the next financial crises.

The effect of the TseTse fly on African development

Marcella Alsan has a new paper in the American Economic Review:

The TseTse fly is unique to Africa and transmits a parasite harmful to humans and lethal to livestock. This paper tests the hypothesis that the TseTse reduced the ability of Africans to generate an agricultural surplus historically. Ethnic groups inhabiting TseTse-suitable areas were less likely to use domesticated animals and the plow, less likely to be politically centralized, and had a lower population density. These correlations are not found in the tropics outside of Africa, where the fly does not exist. The evidence suggests current economic performance is affected by the TseTse through the channel of precolonial political centralization.

You will find ungated versions here.

Africa fact of the day

For now, the advance of democracy in Africa appears to have stalled. In 1990, just three of Africa’s 48 countries were electoral democracies, according to Freedom House, a Washington-based pro-democracy advocacy group. By 1994, that number had leapt to 18. Two decades later, only 19 qualify.

That is from Drew Hinshaw and Patrick McGroarty at The Wall Street Journal, the article is interesting throughout.

African immigrant fact of the day

That’s African immigrants to the United States, here is the fact:

In 2009, 41.7 percent of African-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28.1 percent of native-born adults and 26.8 percent of all foreign-born adults.

The source is here, further information about African immigrants is here.  They speak good English at very high rates — close to three-quarters — and they are more likely than other immigrants to be participating in the labor force.  And their importance is rising:

Though African immigrants represented only 0.4 percent of all foreign born in 1960, this share grew to 1.4 percent in 1980, to 1.8 percent in 1990, and to 2.8 percent in 2000…

There is also this:

People born in the U.S. were roughly four times as likely to report engaging in violent behavior than immigrants from Asia and Africa…

The future of immigration to America is likely African, some south Asian, and Chinese, with Latinos continuing to have a presence as well.

African-American fact of the day (there is a great stagnation)

As sociologist Patrick Sharkey shows in his book Stuck in Place, 62 percent of black adults born between 1955 and 1970 lived in neighborhoods that were at least 20 percent poor, a fact that’s true of their children as well. An astounding 66 percent of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents.

That is from Jamelle Bouie, there is more here, mostly about neighborhood effects.

The South African rate hike isn’t working

South Africa’s central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate by 0.5 percentage point to 5.5 per cent as concerns over the wilting currency outweighed the weakness of the local economy, but it proved insufficient to impress currency markets.

The South African rand jumped around during the presentation of the rate announcement, but eventually slumped to 11.339 against the US dollar, down 2.7 per cent in the day as investors were unimpressed by the tentative nature of the increase.

The decline was mirrored in other currencies, with the Turkish lira slumping 1.6 per cent after an early day gain of as much as 3 per cent.

There is more from the FT here, more in general here, where you also will see reports that the positive impact of the Turkish rate hike is falling fast.

Why are children shorter in India than in Africa?

Via Chris Blattman, Jayachandran and Pande have a new paper (pdf), here is the abstract:

Height-for-age among children is lower in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. This presents a puzzle since India is richer than the average African country and fares better on most other development indicators including infant mortality. Using data from African and Indian Demographic and Health Surveys, we document three facts. First, among firstborns, Indians are actually taller than Africans; the Indian height disadvantage appears with the second child and increases with birth order. Second, investments in successive pregnancies and higher birth order children decline faster in India than Africa. Third, the India-Africa birth order gradient in child height appears to vary with sibling gender. These three facts suggest that parental preferences regarding higher birth order children, driven in part by cultural norms of eldest son preference, underlie much of India’s child stunting.

How much is African poverty really declining?

I’ve never been convinced by extant treatments of this topic.  Here is one further stab at the problem, from Afrobarometer (pdf):

New data from Round 5 of the Afrobarometer, collected across an unprecedented 34 African countries between October 2011 and June 2013, demonstrates that lived poverty remains pervasive across the continent. This data, based on the views and experiences of ordinary citizens, counters projections of declining poverty rates that have been derived from official GDP growth rates. For the 16 countries where these questions have been asked over the past decade, we find little evidence for systematic reduction of lived poverty despite average GDP growth rates of 4.8% per year over the same period. While we do see reductions in five countries (Cape Verde, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe), we also find increases in lived poverty in five other (Botswana, Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania). Overall, then, despite high reported growth rates, lived poverty at the grassroots remains little changed. This suggests either that growth is occurring, but that its effects are not trickling down to the poorest citizens in fact, income inequality may be worsening), or alternatively, that actual growth rates may not match up to those being reported. The evidence also suggests, however,that investment in infrastructure and social services are strongly linked with lower levels of lived poverty.

I am not suggesting that these are “the right” numbers, and you might object that they are based on individual responses to questions.  Still, the numbers do show a very definite poverty reduction in the case of Ghana and some other countries with good news, so the responses do not seem entirely unconnected to reality.  In any case I have long been suspicious about how much African growth has been resource-generated rather than based in ongoing gains in agricultural productivity.

If you would like better news from Africa, here are some figures from last year about declining child mortality.  Here are some new results comparing Africa to earlier stages in British history, the original paper is here (pdf).

Malaysia (Africa) fact of the day

Malaysia was the third biggest investor in Africa in 2011, the latest year for which data is available, behind France and the United States, pushing China and India into fourth and fifth positions.

There is also the stock rather than the flow:

France and the United States also have the largest historical stock of investments in Africa, with Britain in third place and Malaysia in fourth, followed by South Africa, China and India.

Note that much of the Malaysian FDI went to Mauritius and also that FDI is not the only measure of foreign economic involvement.  The article is here, hat tip goes to @viewfromthecave.

A skeptical perspective on African development

Rick Rowden thinks manufacturing is a key:

We can look at whether manufacturing has been increasing as a percentage of GDP, or whether the manufacturing value added (MVA) of exports has been rising. In these cases the comparison between Africa and East Asia is actually quite revealing — as demonstrated by a recent U.N. report that paints a far less flattering picture of Africa’s development prospects.

It finds that, despite some improvements in a few countries, the bulk of African countries are either stagnating or moving backwards when it comes to industrialization. The share of MVA in Africa’s GDP fell from 12.8 percent in 2000 to 10.5 percent in 2008, while in developing Asia it rose from 22 percent to 35 percent over the same period. There has also been a decline in the importance of manufacturing in Africa’s exports, with the share of manufactures in Africa’s total exports having fallen from 43 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2008. In terms of manufacturing growth, while most have stagnated, 23 African countries had negative MVA per capita growth during the period 1990 – 2010, and only five countries achieved an MVA per capita growth above 4 percent.

The report also finds that Africa remains marginal in global manufacturing trade. Its share of global MVA has actually fallen from an already paltry 1.2 percent in 2000 to 1.1 percent in 2008, while developing Asia’s share rose from 13 percent to 25 percent over the same period. In terms of exports, Africa’s share of global manufacturing exports rose from 1 percent in 2000 to only 1.3 percent in 2008.

The pointer is from the excellent @FGoria.

Social Networks and Risk of Homicide Victimization in an African American Community

That is a new paper from Andrew V. Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman, here is the abstract:

This study estimates the association of an individual’s position in a social network with their risk of homicide victimization across a high crime African American community in Chicago. Data are drawn from five years of arrest and victimization incidents from the Chicago Police Department. Results indicate that the risk of homicide is highly concentrated within the study community: 41 percent of all gun homicides in the study community occurred within a social network containing less than 4 percent of the neighborhood’s population. Logistic regression models demonstrate that network-level indicators reduce the association between individual-level risk factors and the risk of homicide victimization, as well as improve overall prediction of individual victimization. In particular, social distance to a homicide victim is negatively and strongly associated with individual victimization: each social tie removed from a homicide victim decreases one’s odds of being a homicide victim by approximately 57 percent. Findings suggest that understanding the social networks of offenders can allow researchers to more precisely predict individual homicide victimization within high crime communities.

Some of those sentences could be framed for their importance.  For the pointer I thank DP.

Here are other papers by Andrew Papachristos.  Here is a paper by Christopher Wildeman.

Has Africa always been the world’s poorest continent?

Jeff Sachs claims that Africa was always the poorest continent in the world, that many parts of Africa have never experienced economic growth, and that comparisons between African countries and Asian countries are highly misleading (see in this video for example).

Until recently it has been hard to establish basic stylized facts about African development because GDP data only goes back to 1960, but Ewout Frankema and Marlous van Waijenburg have been able to compile internationally comparable real wage estimates back to the 1880s (pdf). They follow Bob Allen’s influential methodology, constructing representative consumption bundles, and then seeing how many bundles an unskilled worker could obtain. The welfare ratios that result show that it simply makes no sense to talk about African economic performance in general in the colonial period.

There were at least two distinct economies in British colonial Africa, a comparatively high-wage, labor scarce, economy in West Africa, and a low-wage economy in East Africa.   Real wages in many West African cities grew more or less continuously, from the 1880s until the 1930s, as these economies enjoyed a boom in commodity exports, and West African wages exceeded wages in many Asian cities through the colonial period. The story of poverty and stagnation in modern West Africa is not a story of permanent stagnation, but of growth collapses and growth reversals (especially in the 1970s and 1980s).

In contrast, real wages were extremely low in British East Africa.  Many East African economies like Kenya never experienced rapid growth in the colonial period. It was the crisis of the 1970s that created the current view we have of all of sub-Saharan Africa as sharing a common set of problems. Modern Ghana, or the Gold Coast was roughly twice as rich as Kenya in the colonial period,  but by the 1980s per capita GDP in the two countries was the same.  Were the high real wages of the colonial period solely the rest of labor scarcity? (like the high wages recorded in medieval Europe after the Black Death) or did they represent a genuine moment of opportunity that could have led to sustained economic growth?

Consider this evidence in light of recent optimism about growth rates in Africa in the 2000s (see this MR post).  Like the increase in real wages that occurred in the colonial period, recent growth has been driven by an export boom and rising commodity prices.  These findings suggest that episodes of economic growth are less rare in African history than we might previously have supposed.  Instead, perhaps the real difficulty lies in sustaining economic growth, and not in getting growth going for a few years.