Higher Education and Economic Growth in Africa

International Journal of African Higher Education, 2014, 1(1): 22-57

36 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2014

See all articles by David E. Bloom

David E. Bloom

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Canning

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Kevin J Chan

Harvard University

Dara Lee Luca

Mathematica Policy Research

Date Written: December 18, 2014

Abstract

Enrollment rates for higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa are by far the lowest in the world at 6%. Yet because of conventional beliefs that tertiary education is less important for poverty reduction, the international development community has encouraged African governments’ relative neglect of higher education. This article challenges beliefs that tertiary education has little role in promoting economic growth and alleviating poverty. First, we review recent evidence that higher education can produce significant public and private benefits. Next, we analyze the relationship between tertiary education and economic growth. We find evidence that tertiary education improves technological catch-up and, in doing so, may help to maximize Africa’s potential to achieve more rapid economic growth given current constraints. Investing in tertiary education in Africa may accelerate technological diffusion, which would in turn decrease knowledge gaps and help reduce poverty in the region. We also review new developments and trends in the higher education scene in Africa.

Keywords: higher education, Africa, economic growth

JEL Classification: I21, I28, O11

Suggested Citation

Bloom, David E. and Canning, David and Chan, Kevin J and Luca, Dara Lee, Higher Education and Economic Growth in Africa (December 18, 2014). International Journal of African Higher Education, 2014, 1(1): 22-57, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2540166

David E. Bloom

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States
617-432-0654 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David Canning

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Kevin J Chan

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dara Lee Luca (Contact Author)

Mathematica Policy Research ( email )

P.O. Box 2393
Princeton, NJ 08543-2393
United States

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