DP8586 Human Development in Africa: A Long-run Perspective

Author(s): Leandro Prados de la Escosura
Publication Date: September 2011
Keyword(s): Africa, Education, HDI, Human Development, Life Expectancy, Sub-Saharan Africa
JEL(s): I30, N37, O15, O55
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8586

Long-run trends in Africa?s well-being are provided on the basis of a new index of human development, alternative to the UNDP?s HDI. A sustained improvement in African human development is found that falls, nonetheless, short of those experienced in other developing regions. Within Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa has fallen steadily behind the North since mid-20th century. Human development improvement is positively associated to being coastal and resource-rich and negatively to political-economy distortions. Contrary to the world experience, in which life expectancy dominated, education has driven progress in African human development during the last half-a-century and, due to the impact of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy and the arresting effect of economic mismanagement and political turmoil on growth, advances in human development since 1990 have depended almost exclusively on education achievements. The large country variance of the recovery during the last decade suggests being cautious about the future?s prospects.