Professor Block Examines "Revisiting African Agriculture: Institutional Change and Productivity Growth"

The Journal of Politics

Africa is largely agrarian, and the performance of agriculture shapes the performance of its economies. It has long been argued that economic development in Africa is strongly conditioned by politics. Recent changes in Africa’s political systems enables us to test this argument and, by extension, broader claims about the impact of political institutions on economic development. Building on a recent analysis of total factor productivity growth in African agriculture, we find that the introduction of competitive presidential elections in the last decades of the twentieth century appears to have altered political incentives, resulting in policy reforms that have enhanced the performance of farmers.