Xinshen Diao

Changing Structure of Africa's Economies

"In recent years, some counties in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) have experienced growth in their economies and improvements in living standards. Although there is some debate, it is clear that the share of the population living below the poverty line fell significantly over the past decade and a half; there has been a general decline in infant mortality rates and increased access to education; in some of the fastest growing economies, average growth rates have been positive for the first time in decades; and since the early 1990s, real consumption in SSA has grown between 3.4 and 3.7 percent per year. The reasons behind this so-called “African growth miracle” are not well understood, and to our knowledge, this paper is the first to connect these improvements in living standards to important occupational changes."

Cities and Rural Transformation a Spatial Analysis of Rural Youth Livelihoods in Ghana

"Urbanization has had a major impact on livelihoods in Ghana and throughout Africa as a whole. However, much research on urbanization has focused on effects occurring within cities, while there is insufficient understanding of its effects on rural areas. This paper examines the impact of urbanization— through a typology of districts—on rural livelihoods in Ghana. The country’s districts are classified into seven spatial groups according to the size of the largest city in each district in southern and northern Ghana. The paper does not address rural–urban migration but instead focuses on the livelihoods of rural households. In contrast to the extensive literature focusing on the effects of urbanization on individuals, we assess its impacts on individual rural households as a whole, with a particular focus on youth-headed households. Many rural households have shifted their primary employment from agriculture to nonagriculture, especially in the more urbanized South. In contrast, change in livelihood diversification within rural households with family members’ primary employment in both agriculture and nonagriculture appears much less rapid. Rural youth-headed households are significantly more associated with the transition away from agriculture than households headed by other adults, and such trends are stronger in locations closer to larger cities, particularly in the South. Although the nonagricultural economy is becoming increasingly important for rural households, contrary to expectations, the probit model analysis in this paper shows that agricultural production does not appear to be more intensified—in terms of modern input use—in the more urbanized South, and youth do not show greater agricultural technology adoption than other adults, indicating that the constraints against modern input adoption may be binding for all farmers, including youth and farmers in more urbanized locations. We also find that rural poverty rates are consistently lower among nonagricultural households, and the share of middleclass population is also disproportionally higher among rural nonagricultural households than agricultural households."

Towards Understanding Economic Growth in Africa: A Reinterpretation of the Lewis Model

"Africa’s recent economic growth is at a historical high, the patterns associated with this growth appear to be quite different from the Asian experiences where rapid growth was fueled by labor intensive, export-oriented manufacturing. Because this pattern differs with our typical view of structural transformation, a heated debate has begun over the sustainability of Africa’s growth. In our view, Africa’s recent growth is still not well understood and thus it is difficult to say much that is meaningful about future prospects for growth on the continent. Against this background, we adapt Lewis’s (1954) dual-economy model to the economies of Africa to better understand the role that the “in-between” sector as defined by Lewis (1979) has played in Africa’s recent growth. Our framework incorporates the coexistence of a closed and an open modern economy and takes into account the diversity and heterogeneity of the activities that characterize modern African economies. We apply this framework to the economy of Rwanda to assess Rwanda’s future growth prospects based on different levels of foreign capital inflows. We find that the composition of growth and patterns of structural change are different depending on the assumptions about foreign inflows. Higher foreign inflows lead to significantly more growth in the closed modern economy and stagnant growth in the open modern economy, a phenomenon consistent with recently observed patterns of growth across several African countries."

Evidence on Key Policies for African Agricultural Growth

"It is widely agreed that reducing poverty in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) depends largely on stimulating growth in agriculture. To this end, heads of state in Africa rallied to form the pan-African Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) with the goal of raising investments and improving strategy implementation. However, while implementing an agricultural agenda under the CAADP framework, more and more countries have realized that increasing public investment in agriculture alone is not enough. Policy can play an important role not only to make public investment more efficient, but also is crucial for incentivizing private sector and farmer investment in agriculture. Against this backdrop this paper takes stock of current agricultural policies in SSA with a view to identifying policies that are working as well as areas for improvement. The paper examines policies to encourage the adoption of agricultural inputs, initiate greater private-sector investment in agriculture and agro-industries, and manage price volatility while encouraging openness. The paper further reviews successful land tenure policies and property rights systems, reviews the evidence on the synergies between agriculture and nutrition, and examines how CAADP is laying the institutional architecture for improved policy formulation in Africa. In general, the paper finds that although substantial progress has been made, there is considerable scope for improvement. This is not surprising given the relatively primitive and deeply rooted nature of smallholder farming in Africa. Evidence synthesized in the paper supports the view that most policies cannot be implemented in isolation. Rather, policies tend to be most effective when implemented along with complementary policies and public investments."

Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies

"This book examines the potential of agriculture to contribute to national growth and poverty reduction. It also evaluates the financial costs of accelerating agricultural growth. The analysis is based on ten country case studies that apply similar economywide approaches to linking growth, poverty, and investment. The findings indicate that, in most African countries, improving agriculture’s performance is essential to achieving pro-poor growth. They also point to export agriculture having high growth potential and becoming a prominent part of agricultural strategies. The research shows that broad-based growth will be difficult to achieve without expanding staple-food crop production and livestock production, since only they have the scale and linkages to poor households needed to reduce national poverty within a reasonable period of time. Finally, the case studies confirm the need for greater investment in agriculture. This book provides a structured approach to evaluating agricultural development strategies at the country level. The case studies demonstrate the application of important analytical methods that can be adopted by governments and researchers in developing countries."

Making Agriculture Pro-Nutrition: Opportunities in Tanzania

"Extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition are widespread in rural Tanzania, where smallholder agriculture dominates the economy. Given the sector’s role as the main source of food and livelihood for many malnourished people, agriculture has substantial potential to reduce poverty and hunger. Unfortunately, to date, the agricultural sector has not yet reached this potential, and agricultural growth has not translated to significant improvements in nutrition outcomes at large. In this study, we explore the links between agriculture and nutrition in Tanzania and review the evidence on how these links can be strengthened for improved nutrition. We further quantitatively evaluate the potential nutrition outcome of agricultural growth through productivity-enhancing investments over the next five years."

Assessing Crop Production and Input Use Patterns in Ghana – What can we learn from the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS5)?

"Agriculture in Ghana accounts for about 40 percent of national economy, three quarters of export earnings, and employs 60 percent of the labor force. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy and the sector has served as the main driver for the growth over the last two decades. Moreover, agriculture is the most important sector for poverty reduction and has helped the country become the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve the first objective of Millennium Development Goals (MDG1) by halving the country’s 1990 poverty rate before the 2015 target year."

Economywide Impact of Avian Flu in Ghana: A Dynamic CGE Model Analysis

"We use a dynamic CGE model to quantitatively assess the economywide impact of HPAI in Ghana. The likely effect of an avian flu outbreak is modeled as demand or supply shocks to the poultry sector. Our analysis shows that, while chicken is a quite small sector of the Ghanaian economy, the shock in chicken demand due to consumers’ anxieties is the dominant factor in causing chicken production to fall. The indirect effect on soybean and maize that are used as chicken feed is also large. Under the worst-case scenario, soybean production will fall by 37 percent and maize by 6.4 percent. However, the economywide impact on both AgGDP and GDP is very small. In the worst-case scenario, in which chicken production falls by 70 percent in 2011, AgGDP falls by only 0.4 percent and GDP is almost unchanged. However, the livelihood impacts of a HPAI outbreak could be significant for some sections of the population in Ghana particularly those involved in the poultry sector. Micro-level analysis of chicken producers’ livelihood, therefore, is necessary."

Agriculture for Development in Ghana

"This paper has been prepared in support of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) roundtable in Ghana. The study also takes a fresh perspective on the role of agriculture for development in light of the global food crisis. It addresses two main questions: what are the impacts of Green-revolution type agricultural growth to reach the CAADP goal in Ghana? Given the large investments required to achieve such productivity-led growth, what is the sector’s contribution to the overall economy? Results from the dynamic computable general equilibrium model suggest that by closing the existing yield gaps in crop production and supporting essential growth in the livestock sector Ghana can achieve CAADP’s 6 percent growth target. In this process, agriculture supports the rest of the economy through substantial and largely invisible monetary transfers to the nonagricultural sectors, which are primarily driven by the reduction of domestic food prices. Thus, CAADP growth benefits both rural and urban households, and reduces poverty by more than half within 10 years. However, widening regional disparities between the North and the rest of Ghana will increasingly pose a challenge for the development. Additional measures more targeted towards generating growth in the lagging North will be necessary to bridge the income gap and reach Ghana’s poorest of the poor."

The Role of Cocoa in Ghana's Future Development

"The recent surge in world commodity prices might alter the role of traditional export crops in African economies. While export crops have traditionally been important sources of foreign exchange earnings and government revenues, Ghana is an exceptional case, where a combination of favorable external conditions and internal reforms have made cocoa the driver of growth and poverty reduction. Cocoa's share of agricultural GDP has been increasing rapidly and existing yield gaps and the prospects of continued high world commodity prices suggest further growth potential. We find that increasing cocoa production by around 60,000 tons per annum is needed to support Ghana reaching its middle-income country target. However, cocoa’s poverty-growth elasticity is low, thus implying that further growth is unlikely to lead to the large reductions in poverty experienced in the past. Finally, we show that, even with complimentary growth in other sectors, cocoa will continue to dominate agricultural exports over the medium term and that structural diversification remains a key challenge for Ghana."