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Inequality and the Impact of Growth on Poverty: Comparative Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Augustin Kwasi Fosu

Abstract

This study explores the extent to which inequality affects the impact of income growth on the rates of poverty changes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) compared to non-SSA, based on a global sample of 1977-2004 unbalanced panel data. For both regions and all three measures of poverty – headcount, gap and squared gap – the paper finds the impact of GDP growth on poverty reduction to be a decreasing function of initial inequality. The impacts are similar in direction for SSA and non-SSA, so that within both regions there are considerable disparities in the responsiveness of poverty to income growth, depending on inequality. Nevertheless, income-growth elasticity is substantially less for SSA, implying relatively low poverty-reduction sensitivity to growth compared with the rest of the developing world. Furthermore, the paper uncovers a considerable variation in the predicted values of income-growth elasticity across a large number of SSA countries. This implies there is a need to understand country-specific inequality attributes for poverty-reduction strategies to be effective.

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Paper provided by BWPI, The University of Manchester in its series Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series with number 9809.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:9809

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  1. Goldstein, Joshua S., 1985. "Basic human needs: The plateau curve," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 595-609, May.
  2. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. " Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
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  5. Theo S Eicher & Cecilia Garcia Penalosa, . "Inequality and Growth," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0083, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
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  7. Kalwij, Adriaan & Verschoor, Arjan, 2007. "Not by growth alone: The role of the distribution of income in regional diversity in poverty reduction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 805-829, May.
  8. Anne Epaulard, 2003. "Macroeconomic Performance and Poverty Reduction," IMF Working Papers 03/72, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Adams, Richard Jr., 2004. "Economic Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Estimating the Growth Elasticity of Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 1989-2014, December.
  10. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Can high-inequality developing countries escape absolute poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1775, The World Bank.
  11. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1992. "Growth and redistribution components of changes in poverty measures : A decomposition with applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 275-295, April.
  12. François Bourguignon, 2002. "The growth elasticity of poverty reduction : explaining heterogeneity across countries and time periods," DELTA Working Papers 2002-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  13. Hicks, Norman & Streeten, Paul, 1979. "Indicators of development: The search for a basic needs yardstick," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 567-580, June.
  14. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  15. Augustin Kwasi Fosu, 2008. "Inequality and the growth-poverty nexus: specification empirics using African data," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(7), pages 563-566.
  16. Fosu, A. K., 2001. "Political instability and economic growth in developing economies: some specification empirics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 289-294, February.
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