Structural change in developing countries: Patterns, causes, and consequences

Emmanuel Mensah, UNU-MERIT

The main objective of the thesis is to investigate the patterns, causes, and (labor market) consequences of structural change in developing countries especially those in Africa. The thesis begins with premise that our understanding of structural change in Africa is limited by a great statistical problem. Building on the existing work, the thesis produces a new sectoral database for Africa. Using this database, which reflects current sectoral development in Africa, the thesis establishes many empirical regularities about the patterns, causes and consequences of structural change in Africa.

The thesis present four main conclusions. First and foremost, the structural change of Africa is atypical, characterized by a process of informal tertiarization, labor market turbulence and de-agriculturalization driven by the push effect (increasing agricultural productivity). Second, the thesis shows that successful productivity convergence within Africa requires the combination of technical progress and efficiency change. While technical progress is cause of structural change in Africa, technological catch-up is consequence of structural change. Third, there is a general view that Africa is deindustrializing prematurely. This argument is often based on hasty inductive generalization. Further scrutiny of these generalizations reveals a process of industrial stagnation not premature deindustrialization. Finally, the thesis further considers the role of policy reform. The thesis shows that structural reforms affect productivity growth through the intra-allocative efficiency channel but not the inter-allocative efficiency channel, helping to explain why many developing countries had structural adjustment programs without structural change.

Venue: Online:

Date: 23 November 2020

Time: 16:00 - 17:30