The changing structure of Africa’s economies

In recent years, some counties in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) have experienced growth in their economies and improvements in living standards. Although there is some debate, it is clear that the share of the population living below the poverty line fell significantly over the past decade and a half; there has been a general decline in infant mortality rates and increased access to education; in some of the fastest-growing economies, average growth rates have been positive for the first time in decades; and since the early 1990s, real consumption in SSA has grown between 3.4 and 3.7 percent per year. The reasons behind this so-called “African growth miracle” are not well understood, and to our knowledge, this paper is the first to connect these improvements in living standards to important occupational changes.