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Differences in economic performance between franc zone and other sub-Saharan African countries

Working papers

This Working Paper analyses the effects on economic performance of policy differences between franc zone sub-Saharan countries and non-franc zone (NFZ) countries. The paper notes that the franc zone is far from being a homogenous block. Nevertheless, the following broad conclusions were noted.

Over the 1975-88 period a range of economic performance indicators tended to show more favourable average values for franc zone groupings than NFZ groupings, although generally these differences became less pronounced during the mid-1980s and reversed in the late 1980s. The performance differences appear more pronounced in the limited range of financial indicators available (where sub-Saharan African coverage is wide, accurate and timely). Thus the franc zone has lower rates of inflation, lower rates of growth of monetary aggregates and lower real exchange rate volatility. These can be seen as the most direct benefits of franc zone membership as superior performance is linked to specific institutional arrangements.

However, better results for the franc zone in earlier periods may merely reflect exceptionally poor performance by the comparators. A second reservation is that conclusions can be substantially modified by the type of weighting scheme used to aggregate countries and the base year exchange rates utilised for scalar variables.

Christopher E. Lane, Sheila Page