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Agricultural Statistics
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Morten Jerven, World Economics, March 2013
In developing economies the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, the final series are subject to political pressure, particularly when the government is subsidizing agricultural inputs. This paper draws on debates on the effect of crop data subsidies in Malawi. The recent agricultural census (2006/2007) indicates a maize output of 2.1 million tonnes, compared to the previously widely circulated figures of 3.4 million tonnes. The paper suggests that ‘data’ are themselves a product of agricultural policies.
Whatever Happened to Africa’s Rapid Urbanisation?
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Dr Deborah Potts, World Economics, June 2012
It is widely believed that urbanisation is occurring faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants move from rural to urban settlements. This is a fallacy. While the populations of numerous urban areas are growing rapidly, the urbanisation levels of many countries are increasing slowly – if at all. Natural increase, rather than net in-migration, is the predominant growth factor in most urban populations. African governments, policymakers and international donors need to acknowledge fundamental changes in urbanisation trends, and respond to the irrefutable messages these impart about urban employment, incomes and economic development.
Wealth and Population Data in Africa
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2012
There are very good grounds for challenging much of the conventionally accepted UN and World Bank economic data relating to both the absolute and relative per capita income of many African countries and to their growth rates over time. A recent paper by Morton Jerven published in World Economics demonstrated the unreliability of much if not most African GDP data and a new paper published in this issue by Deborah Potts challenges the accuracy of African population estimates"
Measuring African GDP
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Joe Downie, World Economics, June 2011
There is much speculation about the growth potential of African economies. But in the light of unreliable official statistics and the highly selective information often presented by investment companies with an incentive to highlight the positive, this article aims to provide some extra analysis to add to the recent widespread comments on high growth rates within the continent. Problems are noted with official economic data and the strengths of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) measures for GDP comparisons are noted. GDP figures for Africa and five other major economic areas are analysed for the three decades to 2010 in terms of GDP growth and GDP level by decade. These figures are then viewed in per capita terms, drawing attention to significant population growth within the continent, and therefore less impressive per capita figures. A closer look at the location and distribution of economic activity within the African continent highlights the high concentration of economic activity within a small number of countries. However, it is concluded that the future prospects for African growth are still generally positive. Despite the heavy reliance on oil exports in some countries, headline GDP figures also reflect incidences of broad-based growth which looks set to continue so long as Asian demand remains high and good economic policies are pursued.

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