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Vulnerability, seasonality and poverty in Ethiopia

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  • Stefan Dercon
  • Pramila Krishnan

Abstract

Most studies examining the dynamics of welfare have found large fluctuations in consumption over relatively short periods, suggesting substantial short-run movements in and out of poverty. The consequence is that cross-section poverty research may not be able to identify the poor. In this study, we explore this short-run variability further. We use a data set on a panel of 1450 households in different communities in rural Ethiopia, surveyed thrice, over 18 months. On average year-to-year poverty is very similar. However, we find high variability in consumption and poverty, over the seasons and year-by-year. Econometric analysis suggests that consumption is affected by idiosyncratic and common shocks, including rainfall and household-specific crop failure, while households respond to seasonal incentives related to changing labour demand and prices. The results imply that a larger number of households are vulnerable to shocks than implied by the standard poverty statistics, while some of the non-poor in these statistics are in fact otherwise poor households temporally boosting their consumption as an optimal response to changing seasonal incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2000. "Vulnerability, seasonality and poverty in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 25-53.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:36:y:2000:i:6:p:25-53
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380008422653
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Deaton, A. & Zaidi, S., 1999. "Guidelines for Constructing Consumption Aggregates for Welfare Analysis," Papers 192, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    2. Christian Schluter, 1996. "Income Mobility in Germany: Evidence from Panel Data," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 17, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    3. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_zaidi_consumption is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Angus Deaton & Margaret Grosh, 1998. "Designing Household Survey Questionnaires for Developing Countries Lessons from Ten Years of LSMS Experience, Chapter 17: Consumption," Working Papers 218, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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