Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong (African Arguments) (Paperback)
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For the first time in generations, Africa is spoken of these days with enthusiastic hope: no longer seen as a hopeless morass of poverty, the continent instead is described as “Africa Rising,” a land of enormous economic potential that is just beginning to be tapped.
With Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong, Morten Jerven offers a bracing corrective. Neither story, he shows, is accurate. In truth, most African economies have been growing rapidly since the 1990s—and, until a collapse in the ’70s and ’80s, they had been growing reliably for decades. Puncturing weak analysis that relies too much on those two lost decades, Jerven redraws our picture of Africa’s past, present, and potential.
About the Author
Morten Jerven teaches at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He is the author of Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It.
"Excellent. . . . [Jerven’s] points are elegantly argued and although he delves into extremely technical economic concepts and methods, Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong is readable and easy for a nonspecialist to understand. But specialists in particular must read Jerven, and take seriously his claims."
— Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne
“[Jerven] demolishes much of the best-known work by prominent economists who very clearly do get it wrong and in so doing promote a false and unfortunate impression of Africa as failed economically. . . . Everyone interested in Africa or in the great mysteries of how to understand economic growth can benefit from this excellent book. Essential.”
"Jerven provides a very useful explanation and argument as to why Western policies or technologies cannot simply be grafted onto the current reality of Africa."
— International Socialism
“In his incisive book, Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong, Jerven provides a critical analysis of the economic development literature on Africa.”
— African Studies Quarterly
“According to Jerven, the dominant narrative of African economic failure persists because economists ask the wrong question: they seek to explain why Africa has failed rather than show how Africa has actually performed. In fact, over the last century, many African economies have experienced episodes of both growth and decline. . . . Ultimately, Jerven concludes that although the narrative of chronic failure is a distortion, so is the ‘Africa rising’ narrative.”
— Foreign Affairs
“In this stimulating book, Jerven questions the historical focus of development economics as applied to Africa and calls for greater emphasis on the individual experiences of African countries.”
— African Affairs
“[T]his is indeed an exhilarating and devastating critique of much of what passes as ‘scientific study’ of African economies. . . . This thought-provoking work has put down a marker for mainstream economists not only to think about, but also to respond to.”
— Review of African Political Economy
“By deconstructing the common assumptions guiding most of the econometric exercises leading to all sorts of prognoses, [Jerven] has challenged the mystification practised by mainstream economists.”
— Strategic Review for Southern Africa
“A refreshing contribution to the debate about development scholarship on Africa and it deserves to be read by all.”
— Africa is a Country
“[A] compelling critique.”
— Development Policy
“'Students and researchers in a wide range of fields like international development, statistics, economics, and sociology will find this book helpful . . . it will help scholars conduct better research and change the conversation about African economic development.”
— Science and Public Policy