Contrary to the image of African countries as static mono-exporters, it is unpredictable from one period to the next which will be the top exports in each country.
Consider this picture of Tanzania’s top exports in 1998 and 2007.
The usual development conversation about determinants of per capita income revolves around modern choices of institutions or economic policies. But what if history is the main determinant of development today?
A paper by Diego Comin, Erick Gong, and myself was just published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics. We collected crude but informative data on the state of technology in various parts of the world in 1000 BC, 0 AD, and 1500 AD.