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IsPovertyDestiny? Report Summary

Project ID: 313114
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - ISPOVERTYDESTINY? (Is Poverty Destiny? A New Empirical Foundation for Long-Term African Welfare Analysis)

Is Poverty Destiny? A New Empirical Foundation for Long-Term African Welfare Analysis

This project has created a new empirical foundation for the study of long-term African welfare development to explore the nature and dynamics of Africa’s economic transition in the past two centuries. Many observers still portray Africa in terms of a stagnant continent plagued by endemic conflicts and poverty. This project has shown how dynamic the region is in terms of market development, changing patterns of international trade, welfare development, demographic change and the evolution of fiscal systems.

In order to better understand the dynamics of Africa’s economic transition we explored patterns of long-term welfare development that connected the colonial era to the post-colonial era on the basis of temporally consistent and internationally comparable living standard indicators. The lack of such an empirical foundation has left important research questions unresolved. We have shown that income levels in large parts of Africa have only recently fall behind those of the rest of the world (post-1970) and that many African farmers have actively shaped their engagement in expanding colonial trade and foreign investment. African growth has not been constrained by structural development impediments, such as adverse geographical conditions, but these did have a notable impact on long-term processes of economic specialization.

The project has generated a number of new datasets on wage and price developments, international trade, rural incomes, climate change, fiscal development and spread of education.

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