In the Summer 2021 Issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Belinda Archibong, assistant professor of economics, published new research alongside Brahima Coulibaly, the VP of Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Their article, "Washington Consensus Reforms and Lessons for Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," investigates the effects of “Washington Consensus” reform policies on the socio-economic performance of Sub-Saharan Africa through three key policies surrounding privatization, fiscal discipline, and trade openness.
The term “Washington Consensus,” which was coined by economist John Williamson in 1989, refers to a set of ten market-oriented policies that were popular among Washington-based policy institutions in the early and mid-1980s – a time when many African governments were turning to international financial institutions for debt relief. In general, these policies advocated for fiscal discipline, market-oriented domestic reforms, and openness to trade and investment. The impact that these policies have had on economic outcomes across Africa and other developing countries has been the topic of intense debate for more than three decades.
In their study, Archibong and her fellow researchers use four country case studies to examine the need for pro-poor policies and market-oriented reforms. Based on their analyses, they conclude that Africa’s growth surge in the last two decades "relies heavily on a number of factors that go beyond the economic reform packages of the 1980s and 1990s."