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African Successes, Volume IIHuman Capital$
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Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316055

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316192.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 20 October 2019

Series Introduction

Series Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Series Introduction
Source:
African Successes, Volume II
Author(s):

Sebastian Edwards

Simon Johnson

David N. Weil

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226316192.003.0011

In the 1950s and early 1960s, there was a great deal of optimism about the prospects for economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. By the early 2000s, the prevailing consensus had become much more negative. Decades of civil war, repeated state failure, corruption, and disappointing private sector performance characterized much of Africa’s post-independence experience. A wave of prominent papers in the economic literature tried to dig more deeply into the causes of these problems, with some scholars putting them in a broader comparative perspective and others focusing on the specifics of the African experience. Explanations for repeated African disappointments included weak rule of law, a lack of democracy, colonial inheritance, the impact of the slave trade, the burden of tropical disease, some form of “resource curse,” and ethno-linguistic divisions among the population. The NBER Africa project, conceived in the mid-2000s, took a different approach. Rather than trying to understand the causes of underperformance in Africa, we decided to focus on finding and understanding more positive aspects of what was happening on that continent south of the Sahara, along several different dimensions studied by economists.

Keywords:   Africa, economic development, Gates Foundation

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