Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa

Africa is the largest and most complex development challenge facing the world today. Many of the factors that contribute to Africa’s apparent growth trap continue unabated or may even be tightening their hold. On the one hand, pockets of improvement in health and education, the incipient decline of fertility in some countries, and growth of the world economy provide some hope that this challenge will be success-fully confronted. On the other hand, rapid population growth, environmental stresses, and the AIDS epidemic are enormously disconcerting. Based on the results presented in this paper, the authors argue that it appears that economists and donors must reorient their efforts more toward the roles played by geography, demography, and health in Africa’s growth crisis, in order to devise more effective approaches to alleviating the human misery that continues to pervade the continent.

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