Conventional wisdom has long been negative on Africa. Historically, it has been seen as a failing continent, plagued by deep-rooted problems poverty, corruption, war, and disease. But after four decades of relative stagnation, Africa has been growing rapidly. Since the 1990s, many African countries have seen economic and political improvements, more transparent elections, increased democracy and freedom of press. But these successes are not well understood.
In 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the leading nonprofit economics research organization in the United States, set out to change that and put Brown economist David Weil at the helm. With a $4-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NBER launched the African Successes project. Instead of looking at what's wrong with Africa, the project is identifying and analyzing African successes, with the hope that the studies and data will help countries sustain and transfer their momentum.
NBER commissioned 40 original research projects to encourage collaboration among economists and to bolster the group of researchers working on African development. The project specifically wanted non-African specialists to learn more about the continent, with the goal of making Africa a more popular field for applied economics.
While co-directing the African Successes project, Weil is currently working on two of its 40 research initiatives some of his first scholarly work on the continent.
"One of the project's missions is bring in people who haven't previously worked on or in Africa to study the new things that are happening there," said Weil, professor of economics. "I haven't done a lot of work in Africa before this, but part of being a co-director is leading and showing people that they can do it too."
Weil's first project examines the health impacts of a large-scale anti-malaria campaign in Zambia, which has become a model in sub-Saharan Africa.
|Contact: Deborah Baum|