Poverty Dynamics in Africa

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This series of studies was completed under the Poverty Dynamics in Africa Initiative, \r + which is organized by the Africa Region of the World Bank. This initiative has received support from several bilateral donors: Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The motive for the series, launched in 2002, was to make use of the vastly improved household survey data in Africa and to enhance understanding of poverty trends on this continent during the 1990s. The goal is to provide a more secure empirical basis on which to assess past progress in poverty reduction in Africa and to frame more effective policies for the future.\r + \r + The countries selected for investigation are those in which the household survey data are robust and can sustain comparisons over time. Many of the studies focus on income (or consumption) poverty and seek to link poverty outcomes to wider economic change, induding economic policy reforms, in the countries concerned. Other studies use demographic and health surveys, which have provided invaluable information about the\r + well-being of African people-especially the children. Further information can be obtained from Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) in the Africa Region of the World Bank.

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  • Publication
    The Impact of Economic Reforms in Rural Households in Ethiopia : A Study from 1989 to 1995
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002-04) Dercon, Stefan
    This study examines the poverty, and growth experience of six villages in rural Ethiopia, from 1989 to 1995. The time period was one of relative peace politically, which promoted considerable change in economic policies pertaining to the rural sector. As a result, local growth out-performed the average growth rate in gross domestic product. The focus of the study is the link between economic reforms, growth, and changes in poverty. The author poses the question: Can the observed reduction in poverty be explained by reform-induced higher returns to physical, and human capital, or simply by better weather? To find the answer, a profit function framework is employed to explain growth using prices, and endowments of land, labor, human capital, and location characteristics, with controls for shocks (for example, ill health and drought). The analysis finds that, on average, the poor has benefited more from the reforms than have the non-poor. But the experience of the poor is mixed, with some out-performing all other households, and others persisting in poverty. Although economic reforms do not deliver similar benefits to all the poor, there are high costs for withholding reforms. The study also highlights the effects of shocks on households, and the need for social protection measures, in a poverty reduction strategy.
  • Publication
    Why Has Poverty Increased in Zimbabwe?
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002-03) Alwang, Jeffrey; Mills, Bradford F.; Taruvinga, Nelson
    Poverty in Zimbabwe increased significantly during the 1990s, and it increased in all sectors of the economy. In the middle of the decade, more than 60 percent of Zimbabwean households fell below the national poverty line. There are competing reasons for this: some say it was the result of the government instituting the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), and others say that ESAP's effectiveness was hampered by recurring drought. This document sheds light on the sources of the increase in Zimbabwean poverty, with the use of non-parametric, and parametric statistical methods. These techniques support the conclusion that the drought, though harmful, does not entirely explain the increase in poverty. The deteriorating economic environment, reducing the returns to both human, and physical assets, also had profound effects on household well-being. What are the prospects for improvement in the near future? Only serious structural changes to the economy can create labor market conditions, conducive to long-term, broad-based growth.
  • Publication
    Growth, Distribution, and Poverty in Africa : Messages from the 1990s
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002) Christiaensen, Luc; Demery, Lionel
    This book synthesizes, and elaborates on the results of a series of country studies, completed under the Poverty Dynamics in Africa Initiative, organized by the Africa Region of the Bank. These studies made use of vastly improved household survey data, which have enhanced understanding of African poverty dynamics during the past decade. The book examines the main factors behind observed poverty changes in eight countries - Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. After reviewing the trends in income poverty and other, more direct measures of well-being (such as education, health, and nutrition), the authors go beyond the aggregate numbers, and highlight the insights to be gained from unraveling the microeconomic data. These data reveal systematic distributional effects, linking growth and poverty, which lead to some groups' gaining from episodes of economic growth, and others being left behind. It further describes those groups left behind, and calls for public action to ensure that all poor Africans gain from future economic growth.