May
09

Explaining Successes in Africa

Erin Accampo Hern's "Explaining Success in Africa: Things Don't Always Fall Apart" (2023) is a great teaching book (upper undergraduates or generalist graduate students). The book is easy to read, presents a clear methodology, and integrates theory / variables / data in a most-similar most-different approach. In a class, this could be the foundation, with further readings on the theory and the countries. And, as the author points out, provides an important counter narrative. Recommended, particularly for consideration as a teaching tool. I am also using this as an example for graduate students for thesis ideas. One quote:

"The case comparisons included in this chapter suggest that governments' policy choices have been a key factor distinguishing the countries that have flourished from those that have floundered. Importantly, those policy choices do not exist in a vacuum, but in all cases discussed in this chapter have a clear relationship to the logic of political survival each leader faced. Despite starting with different resources, backgrounds, and timing, Seychelles and Gabon have used policy to nudge investment toward the "next" sector. They both also had political incentives to diversify and distribute government revenue. Neither approach has been perfect, but they have both consistently outperformed their neighbors and other similarly situated countries in both GDP per capita and ­quality-of-life indicators." (Page 41) 

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