Desarrollo. Milagro africano ¿ sí o no ?

En otra entrada anterior ya hemos hablado de esto. El Economista Jefe del Banco Mundial para África, Shanta Devarajan, comenta sobre este tema en su blog.

Personalmente no me gusta la palabra milagro aplicada a este contexto (en realidad no  me gusta en ningún contexto). Si hay desarrollo económico será debido al esfuerzo de los agentes económicos de la  zona, más que a cualquier  milagro. No obstante, esta discusión nominalista no aporta nada a la cuestión fundamental de la que se trata, que es la de cuantificación correcta de la riqueza y crecimiento en países en vías de desarrollo.


An oft-quoted World Bank report said, “Africa could be on the brink of an economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago and India 20 years ago.” 

Meanwhile, Alwyn Young has recently published a paper that claims that per-capita consumption on the continent has been growing at 3.4-3.7 percent a year for the last two decades—about three to four times the growth rates documented in other studies.Instead of using national accounts data (which, as we know, suffer from several deficiencies), Alwyn adopts the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which calculate the households’ ownership of assets and other indicators of well-being (ownership of a car or bicycle; material of the house floor; birth, death or illness of a child, etc.). 


Not so fast, say Kenneth Harttgen, Stephan Klasen and Sebastian Vollmer in a forthcoming publication in the Review of Income and Wealth. They find many reasons why growth in assets may not reflect growth in per capita consumption.  

Perhaps one way of reconciling these two positions, as suggested by Stephan in personal correspondence, is to recognize that growth in per-capita private consumption only captures part of the improvements in people’s well-being.  The increased provision of education, health and infrastructure services also contribute to welfare, but are not captured in private consumption

Young’s analysis tries to capture these factors in his asset index.  However, this does not mean that per-capita consumption was mis-measured.  Rather, it was only telling part of the story.  At the same time, when I look at the poor quality of the health, education and infrastructure services being provided, especially to poor people, I am not sure the asset indices are capturing real welfare gains


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