“Is culture an obstacle to African economic development?”

The author states: “The central question addressed in this paper is the following: to what extent the governance problems of SSA have something to do with the cultural patrimony inherited by African states and countries, culture being understood as “those customary beliefs and values that ethnic, religious, and social groups transmit fairly unchanged from generation to generation” (Guiso et al., 2006: 23)? Indeed, SSA’s [sub-Saharan] bad performance on the level of its institutional environment must be somehow traceable to factors specific to the region that do not lie in the sphere of geography (since, as we have stressed above, resource-rich countries have actually performed worse than resource-poor countries). The particular history of the continent and the manner in which its institutional environment has been shaped over the longer period, even if quite dynamic, must take us some way towards gaining a better understanding of the present Africa’s growth tragedy.” This paper is thus firmly ensconced in modernisation theory, analysing “growth” as a universal desideratum and particular “cultures’ as obstacles to growth.
Platteau, Jean-Philippe
Source publication: 
Paper prepared for the First IERC Conference: The economic performance of civilizations: roles of culture, religion, and the law, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, February 23-24, 2007