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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Recent changes in poverty in Africa: multicountry evidence from household surveys Seminar

Social Statistics and Demography
5 May 2011
Room 1007 (L/R C), Building 58 Highfield Campus

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Dr Claire Bailey on +44 (0)23 8059 2577 or email .

Event details

Social Statistics and Demography Seminar Series

Sala i Martin and Pinhovskiy published an NBER Working Paper in February 2010 arguing that poverty in Africa "has been falling ... much faster than you think". Their method builds on earlier work by the authors, relying on data on changes in GDP from national accounts combined with distributional data to estimate the functional form of the distribution by country and hence predict poverty. They find that poverty has fallen substantially over recent years, almost sufficient to meet the first millennium development goal.

This paper questions the methodology underlying this analysis, and assembles evidence from available, comparable household surveys to draw conclusions on this question, considering consumption and non-consumption measures of poverty, the former based on national poverty lines. In terms of consumption poverty such an analysis is possible for 16 or 17 of the largest 24 African countries, drawing in part on the analysis of a recent AERC project on growth-poverty linkages; these countries include many of the largest African countries. For non-consumption indicators a larger sample is covered. The survey evidence shows that poverty has indeed fallen in many African countries over the last 15-20 years, in some cases by quite a large magnitude. But the scale of the poverty reduction is nonetheless significantly less, and much more recent, than that reported by Sala i Martin and Pinhovskiy. The paper then discusses reasons for the differences.

Speaker information

Professor Andy McKay ,University of Sussex and Chronic Poverty Research Centre

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