Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Poverty, Agricultural development
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated January 31, 2023
Lionel Demery was previously Lead Poverty Specialist in the Africa Region of the World Bank. Has also worked at the International Labour Organisation, the Overseas Development Institute and Warwick University. Currently he is engaged as a consultant. He holds a Masters degree at the London School of Economics.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
Growth, Distribution, and Poverty in Africa : Messages from the 1990s(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2002-03) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Paternostro, StefanoChristiaensen, Demery, and Paternostro review recent evidence on the trends in household well-being in Africa during the 1990s. They draw on the findings of a series of studies on poverty dynamics that use the better data sets now available. The authors begin by taking a broad view of poverty, tracing changes in both income poverty and in other more direct measures of individual welfare. Experiences have been varied: several countries have seen a sharp decline in poverty, while some have witnessed a marked increase. Yet, in the aggregate, economic growth has been pro-poor. Nonetheless, the aggregate numbers also hide significant and systematic distributional effects which have caused some groups to be left behind. The authors draw four key conclusions: Economic policy reforms (improving macroeconomic balances and liberalizing markets) have been conducive to reducing poverty. Market connectedness is key for the poor to benefit from new opportunities generated by economic growth. Some population groups and regions, by virtue of their sheer remoteness, have been left behind when growth picks up. Education and access to land further condition the extent to which households can benefit from economic opportunities and escape poverty. Finally, rainfall variations and ill health are found to have profound effects on poverty outcomes in Africa underscoring the significance of social protection in a poverty reduction strategy.
Growth, Distribution, and Poverty in Africa : Messages from the 1990s(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Paternostro, StefanoThis 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.
Macro and Micro Perspectives of Growth and Poverty in Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Paternostro, StefanoThis article reviews trends in poverty, economic policies, and growth in a sample of African countries during the 1990s, drawing on the better household data now available. Experiences have varied. Some countries have seen sharp drops in income poverty, whereas others have witnessed marked increases. In some countries overall economic growth has been pro-poor and in others not. But the aggregate numbers hide systematic distributional effects. Taking both macro and micro perspectives of growth and poverty in Africa, the article draws four key conclusions. First, economic policy reforms (improving macroeconomic balances and liberalizing markets) appear conducive to reducing poverty. Second, market connectedness is crucial to enable participation in the gains from economic growth. Some regions and households by virtue of their remoteness were left behind when growth picked up. Third, education and access to land emerge as key private endowments to help households benefit from new economic opportunities. Finally, rainfall variations and ill health have profound effects on poverty outcomes, underscoring the significance of social risk management in poverty reduction strategies in Africa.
The Role of Agriculture in Poverty Reduction : An Empirical Perspective(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-09) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Kuhl, JesperThe relative contribution of a sector to poverty reduction is shown to depend on its direct and indirect growth effects as well as its participation effect. The paper assesses how these effects compare between agriculture and non-agriculture by reviewing the literature and by analyzing cross-country national accounts and poverty data from household surveys. Special attention is given to Sub-Saharan Africa. While the direct growth effect of agriculture on poverty reduction is likely to be smaller than that of non-agriculture (though not because of inherently inferior productivity growth), the indirect growth effect of agriculture (through its linkages with nonagriculture) appears substantial and at least as large as the reverse feedback effect. The poor participate much more in growth in the agricultural sector, especially in low-income countries, resulting in much larger poverty reduction impact. Together, these findings support the overall premise that enhancing agricultural productivity is the critical entry-point in designing effective poverty reduction strategies, including in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, to maximize the poverty reducing effects, the right agricultural technology and investments must be pursued, underscoring the need for much more country specific analysis of the structure and institutional organization of the rural economy in designing poverty reduction strategies.
Down to Earth : Agriculture and Poverty Reduction in Africa(Washington, DC : World Bank, 2007) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, LionelThis book contributes to the debate about the role of agriculture in poverty reduction by addressing three sets of questions: Does investing in agriculture enhance/harm overall economic growth, and if so, under what conditions? Do poor people tend to participate more/less in growth in agriculture than in growth in other sectors, and if so, when? If a focus on agriculture would tend to yield larger participation by the poor, but slower overall growth, which strategy would tend to have the largest payoff in terms of poverty reduction, and under which conditions?
Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths from Facts(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Adjognon, Guigonan Serge ; Barrett, Chris ; Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P. ; Carletto, Calogero ; Corral, Paul ; Davis, Benjamin ; Deininger, Klaus ; Di Giuseppe, Stefania ; Dillon, Brian ; Gilbert, Christopher ; Guelfi, Anita ; Hill, Ruth ; Kaminski, Jonathan ; Kilic, Talip ; Le Cotty, Tristan ; Liverpool-Tasie, Saweda ; Maître d’Hôtel, Elodie ; McCullough, Ellen ; Miller, Daniel C. ; Munoz, Juan Carlos ; Naudé, Wim ; Nagler, Paula ; Ndiaye, Moctar ; Nikoloski, Zlatko ; Ogunleye, Wale ; Omonona, B.T. ; Palacios-López, Amparo ; Reardon, Tom ; Sanou, Awa ; Savastano, Sara ; Sheahan, Megan ; Xia, FangStylized facts set agendas and shape debates. In rapidly changing and data scarce environments, they also risk being ill-informed, outdated and misleading. So, following higher food prices since the 2008 world food crisis, robust economic growth and rapid urbanization, and climatic change, is conventional wisdom about African agriculture and rural livelihoods still accurate? Or is it more akin to myth than fact? The essays in “Agriculture in Africa – Telling Myths from Facts” aim to set the record straight. They exploit newly gathered, nationally representative, geo-referenced information at the household and plot level, from six African countries. In these new Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture, every aspect of farming and non-farming life is queried—from the plots farmers cultivate, the crops they grow, the harvest that is achieved, and the inputs they use, to all the other sources of income they rely on and the risks they face. Together the surveys cover more than 40 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population. In all, sixteen conventional wisdoms are examined, relating to four themes: the extent of farmer’s engagement in input, factor and product markets; the role of off-farm activities; the technology and farming systems used; and the risk environment farmers face. Some striking surprises, in true myth-busting fashion, emerge. And a number of new issues are also thrown up. The studies bring a more refined, empirically grounded understanding of the complex reality of African agriculture. They also confirm that investing in regular, nationally representative data collection yields high social returns.