Washington Consensus reforms and economic performance in sub-Saharan Africa

Lessons from the past 4 decades

Dakar, Senegal - July 11, 2019: Ro-ro cargo ship Grande Nigeria in the port of Dakar


Over three decades after market-oriented structural reforms, termed “Washington consensus” policies, were first implemented, we revisit the evidence on policy adoption and the effects of these policies on socio-economic performance in sub-Saharan African countries.

We focus on three key ubiquitous reform policies around privatization, fiscal discipline, and trade openness and document significant improvements in economic performance for reformers over the past two decades.

Following initial declines in per capita economic growth over the 1980s and 1990s, reform adopters experienced notable increases in per capita real GDP growth in the post 2000 period. We complement aggregate analysis with four country case studies that highlight important lessons for effective reform. Notably, the ability to implement pro-poor policies alongside market oriented reforms played a central role in successful policy performance.

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