Hooray! “African poverty is falling…much faster than you think”

Our main conclusion is that Africa is reducing poverty, and doing it much faster than many thought.

  • The growth from the period 1995-2006, far from benefiting only the elites, has been sufficiently widely spread that both total African inequality and African within-country inequality actually declined over this period.
  • The speed at which Africa has reduced poverty since 1995 puts it on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty relative to 1990 by 2015 on time or, at worst, a couple of years late.
  • If the Democratic Republic of Congo converges to the African trend once it is stabilised, the MDG will be achieved by 2012, three years before the target date.

We also find that the African poverty reduction is remarkably general.

  • African poverty reduction cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic.
  • All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty.

This observation is particularly important because it shows that poor geography and history have not posed insurmountable obstacles to poverty reduction.

The lesson we draw is largely optimistic – even the most blighted parts of the poorest continent can set themselves firmly on the trend of limiting and even eradicating poverty within the space of a decade.

That is rather good news.


2 thoughts on “Hooray! “African poverty is falling…much faster than you think”

  1. I wonder what the data looks like if you include years since 2006, which was the height of a worldwide credit bubble?

    1. There’s always been something dodgy about Sala-I-Martin’s figures to me any way at the best of times – they’re consistently reporting lower poverty figures than most others.

      First of all, a bubble doesn’t make you richer than you otherwise would have been. Its a demand thing, not a supply thing. So you get malinvestment and then a bust. Gutted.

      Secondly, Africa didn’t see much of a credit bubble, if anything Africa needs more credit. A major factor in entrenched poverty is an inability to get credit.

      Thirdly, Africa has remained economically successful mostly as a result of demand in BRIC countries, so I think Africa would remain fine.

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