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Mapping Growth into Economic Development

Has Elite Political Instability Mattered in Sub-Saharan Africa?


  • Augustin Kwasi Fosu

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      The author is Director of Research, African Economic Research Consortium, Nairobi, Kenya and Professor of Economics (on leave), Oakland University, Michigan, USA. Part of the research for this paper was conducted while the author was Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Rochester, New York. The current version of the paper has benefited from presentations at the Spring Conference of the Stanford-Berkeley Joint Center for African Studies at Stanford University, April 1997, and at a March 1998 seminar at Cornell University. The author is grateful to the Oakland University Research Committee and the School of Business Administration for grant support. Useful comments by anonymous referees are also appreciated.
      The author currently serves as associate editor or editorial-board member for the following journals: African Development Review, Journal of African Economies, World Bank Economic Review, and World Development. His recent publications include research on the determinants of growth in developing economies, with special focus on Africa: external debt, international trade, and various forms of instabilities. His other published research is on the labor economics of racial and gender groups in the United States: labor force participation of women, and the role of anti-discrimination measures in the labor-market advancement of African-American men and women.


Abstract The study finds that elite political instability (PI)—the incidence of coups d’etat—has negatively influenced the mapping of GDP growth into economic development, measured as the algebraic difference in the United Nations Human Development Index, in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) between 1970 and 1985. Taking into account the additional adverse impact of PI on economic development through its deleterious influence on economic growth, the study estimates that PI has exacted a substantial toll in SSA's economic development.