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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Good News in Africa is Not too Good

Good News in Africa is Not too Good

Thursday, 24 June 2010 04:25

The NYT ran a piece on a study showing an improving economic picture in Africa titled: "Report Optimistic on Africa Economies." The article notes a number of measures by which Africa has been doing better in the last decade than it had in prior decades.

The article is accompanied by a chart that shows growth rates by continent over the last decade. The chart shows that Africa had an average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent. It would have been useful to point out that Africa's population growth averaged 2.3 percent over this period. This means that it per capita GDP growth averaged just 2.6 percent.

While this is a much better growth rate than Africa saw in the prior two decades, it is only slightly faster than the 2.0 percent rate of per capita GDP growth seen in the United States over the period from 1960 to 2009. This means that even in this period of relative prosperity, Africa is making almost no progress in catching up with the developed world.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Falling Behind, Catching Up
written by PDX Pete, June 24, 2010 1:05
Point taken, but the fact remains that "good governance", or at least something better than dictatorships, began to emerge around 1990. This decade has seen some catching up.

This is a long process, doubling per capita income from $500 to $1000 in ten years is an accomplishment, but no American will look at $1000 per capita income and say those people are doing well.

But you have to start. And maybe we are seeing signs that Africa is, finally, starting.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.