(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-03)
Beegle, Kathleen; Christiaensen, Luc; Dabalen, Andrew; Gaddis, Isis
Perceptions of Africa have changed dramatically. Viewed as a continent of wars, famines and entrenched poverty in the late 1990s, there is now a focus on “Africa rising” and an “African 21st century.” Two decades of unprecedented economic growth in Africa should have brought substantial improvements in well-being. Whether or not they did, remains unclear given the poor quality of the data, the nature of the growth process (especially the role of natural resources), conflicts that affect part of the region, and high population growth.
Poverty in a Rising Africa documents the data challenges and systematically reviews the evidence on poverty from monetary and nonmonetary perspectives, as well as a focus on dimensions of inequality. Chapter 1 maps out the availability and quality of the data needed to track monetary poverty, reflects on the governance and political processes that underpin the current situation with respect to data production, and describes some approaches to addressing the data gaps. Chapter 2 evaluates the robustness of the estimates of poverty in Africa. It concludes that poverty reduction in Africa may be slightly greater than traditional estimates suggest, although even the most optimistic estimates of poverty reduction imply that more people lived in poverty in 2012 than in 1990. A broad-stroke profile of poverty and trends in poverty in the region is presented. Chapter 3 broadens the view of poverty by considering nonmonetary dimensions of well-being, such as education, health, and freedom, using Sen's (1985) capabilities and functioning approach. While progress has been made in a number of these areas, levels remain stubbornly low. Chapter 4 reviews the evidence on inequality in Africa. It looks not only at patterns of monetary inequality in Africa but also other dimensions, including inequality of opportunity, intergenerational mobility in occupation and education, and extreme wealth in Africa.