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Changes in poverty in rural Ethiopia 1989-1995: measurement, robustness tests and decomposition

  • Stefan Dercon
  • Pramila Krishnan

Assessing changes in poverty levels over time is bedevilled by problems in questionnaire design, the choice of the poverty line, the exact timing of the survey and uncertainty about the appropriate cost-of-living deflators. In this paper, we focus on testing the robustness of measured changes in poverty to these common problems, using household panel data collected in rural Ethiopia in 1989, 1994 and 1995: in particular, we implement a simple graphical technique for assessing the impact of uncertainty in measured inflation rates. We find that poverty declined between 1989 and 1994, but remained virtually unchanged between 1994 and 1995. However, the last result disguises substantial seasonal fluctuations in 1994. We also find that households with substantial human and physical capital, and better access to roads and towns have both lower poverty levels and are more likely to get better off over time. Human capital and access to roads and towns also reduce the fluctuations in poverty across the seasons.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 1998-07.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:1998-07
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  1. Bishop, John A & Chow, K Victor & Zheng, Buhong, 1995. "Statistical Inference and Decomposable Poverty Measures," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 329-40, October.
  2. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin & DEC, 1994. "Poverty and household size," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1332, The World Bank.
  3. Webb, Patrick & von Braun, Joachim & Yohannes, Yisehac, 1992. "Famine in Ethiopia: policy implications of coping failure at national and household levels," Research reports 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "How Well Can Method Substitute for Data? Five Experiments in Poverty Analysis," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 199-221, August.
  5. Ravallion, Martin & Bidani, Benu, 1994. "How Robust Is a Poverty Profile?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(1), pages 75-102, January.
  6. Jenkins, Stephen P & Lambert, Peter J, 1997. "Three 'I's of Poverty Curves, with an Analysis of UK Poverty Trends," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 317-27, July.
  7. Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1986. "A methodology for measuring food poverty applied to Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 59-74, November.
  8. Stefan Dercon & Bart Capeau, 1998. "Prices,local measurement units and subsistence consumption in rural surveys: an econometric approach with an application to Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1998-10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Deaton, A., 1988. "Quality, Quantity, And Spatial Variation Of Price," Papers 30, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  10. Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Lanjouw, Peter, 1997. "Poverty comparisons with non-compatible data: theory and illustrations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1709, The World Bank.
  11. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Poverty and Economic Growth with Application to Cote d'Ivoire," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(2), pages 121-39, June.
  12. Kakwani, N., 1994. "Testing an hypothesis about differences in poverty estimated from grouped data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 263-271, November.
  13. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Statistical Inference in the Measurement of Poverty," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 632-39, November.
  14. Chaudhuri, Shubham & Ravallion, Martin, 1994. "How well do static indicators identify the chronically poor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 367-394, March.
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