Human Development in Africa: A Long-run Pespective

Background paper to the ERD 2010


Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid


Paper prepared in the framework of the European Report on Development 2010.


On the basis of a new index of human development, derived with an alternative approach the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP 2009), an attempt is made to provide long-run trends in Africa’s well-being. A long run improvement in African human development is found that, nonetheless, falls short of those experienced in other developing regions. Within Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa has fallen behind the northern, Arab region. Since the 1990s Africa’s falling behind is closely associated to the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy and to the arresting effect of economic mismanagement and political turmoil on per capita income growth. As a result, advances in human development depended almost exclusively on education achievements.

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