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Mauritius, a good example of economic development?

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?At the time of independence in 1968, the country shared the most typical problems of Africa', said James E. Meade, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, about Mauritius in 1977. These were the sugar monoculture inherited from colonization, deteriorating terms of trade (which was particularly negative for countries producing raw materials, as they have low elasticity), population growth, tensions between different ethnic communities, etc.

Worse, Mauritius had a disadvantage compared to the rest of Africa: A climate completely tropical, great distance from world markets, and finally dependency on facilities (30% of exports in 1970 against 18% for the rest of Africa the same year). Unlike the black forecast of Mr. Meade, the worst has not happened. Quite the contrary, all indicators seem to make Mauritius a champion of African development; a champion who may, in its scale, keep the comparison on many points with other nations.

Indeed, from 1973 to 1999 the average annual growth was 5.9% in comparison with only 2.4% in the rest of Africa, borne away by differences in GDP per capita: 3.25%, 0.7%. In other words, the occurrence of a collapse evoked by RODRIK to characterize the situation of African countries after the oil shocks did not occur in Mauritius.

Improving human development indicators are equally impressive: the average life expectancy (men and women combined) increased from 61 years in 1965 to 71 in 1996, primary education became widespread and inequality in incomes fell, raising the Gini coefficient from 0.5 in 1962 to 0.37 in 1986-1987.

This resounding success, this "Mauritian miracle" apparently has erected Mauritius to the status of a case study by the Bretton Woods institution. Explaining this undeniable development , which has moved a nation from the status of a poor and disadvantaged country to that of a middle-income country in 30 years of independence is even more important, and this especially since, as will be shown, the development model of Mauritius is truly original. The question ultimately is, how and to what extent can this model be extended elsewhere?

The talent was of the Mauritian authorities to adopt a development policy avoiding both the pitfalls of protectionism and of the opening, with an unorthodox business strategy characterized by an openness to exports and imports plus closed segmentation.

Tags: Mauritius miracle; development model; economic success

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