Why has Asia Succeeded While Africa has not? A Comparative Analysis of Economic Growth: What Factors have Driven The Divergence of Economic Performance Between East/SE Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa?
Morrell, John A.
A comparison of the economies of East and Southeast Asia with those in Sub-Saharan Africa could be suspect, as countries in these two regions are at such vastly different stages of development. Observers often claim that such a comparison is akin to comparing apples and oranges. But in actuality, at the times of their respective independence movements (or at the conclusion of their principal war for the foundation of the current state), the countries in Asia and Africa were at comparable stages of economic development and displayed comparable standards of living indicators. However, in the decades that followed, the vast majority of Sub-Saharan African countries have experienced repeated development failures while many East and Southeast Asian nations have experienced robust economic growth. The differences between the two regions are so extreme that they cannot be explained solely by the different circumstances these countries face with respect to their geography, physical environment, and culture-driven tastes and preferences. What, then, were the primary drivers of this vast divergence, and what lessons can be learned by policymakers and the international development community? Drawing on previous studies, this paper designed an economic growth model with the intention of shedding light on the aforementioned questions. The model involves a time-series least-square regression on a basket of 5 countries from Asia and 6 from Africa, and it charts various economic, political, and demographic variables for the first 20 years post-independence. Its findings indicate that several factors contributed to the divergence of economic performance between Africa and Asia, principally among which were factors related to the two regions' respective public sector institutions, population growth, and demographic change.
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