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The Making of Middle Class in Africa: Evidence from DHS Data

Author

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  • Ncube, Mthuli

    () (University of Oxford)

  • Shimeles, Abebe

    () (African Development Bank)

Abstract

This paper presents evidence on the making of the middle class in Africa by exploiting a comparable micro data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for thirty-seven countries over two decades consisting of over seven hundred thousand household histories. We constructed a pseudo-panel to examine the dynamics of middle class in blocks of four periods covering the period 1990-2011. A key finding is that there was significant mobility of the middle class to the upper class in the last two decades with very few slipping back to poverty with obvious difference across countries. The paper approached the making of a middle class in Africa from institutional and policy perspectives. Initial conditions such as level of development in early decades, quality of institutions and most of all ethnic fractionalization play a significant role in determining the growth of the middle class in recent years. In addition we found evidence suggesting that the size of the middle class is higher in countries where mutual trust among citizens tends to be stronger. The role of education feature prominently in the making of the middle class. In about 30 of the 83 country-level regression decompositions we conducted for the asset index, the contribution of education exceeded 25% in explaining the overall variance in the asset index. The 'premium' (or 'return') individuals obtain from achieving primary, secondary and tertiary level of education is unambiguously high compared with no education, but the effect decreases as the mean level of schooling increases.

Suggested Citation

  • Ncube, Mthuli & Shimeles, Abebe, 2013. "The Making of Middle Class in Africa: Evidence from DHS Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7352, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7352
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Booysen, Frikkie & van der Berg, Servaas & Burger, Ronelle & Maltitz, Michael von & Rand, Gideon du, 2008. "Using an Asset Index to Assess Trends in Poverty in Seven Sub-Saharan African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1113-1130, June.
    2. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    3. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2008. "What Is Middle Class about the Middle Classes around the World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
    4. Loayza, Norman & Rigolini, Jamele & Llorente, Gonzalo, 2012. "Do middle classes bring institutional reforms ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6015, The World Bank.
    5. Sahn, David E. & Stifel, David C., 2000. "Poverty Comparisons Over Time and Across Countries in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2123-2155, December.
    6. Desdoigts, Alain & Jaramillo, Fernando, 2009. "Trade, demand spillovers, and industrialization: The emerging global middle class in perspective," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 248-258, November.
    7. Easterly, William, 2001. "The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-335, December.
    8. Bigsten, Arne & Shimeles, Abebe, 2008. "Poverty Transition and Persistence in Ethiopia: 1994-2004," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1559-1584, September.
    9. Arne Bigsten & Abebe Shimeles, 2011. "The persistence of urban poverty in Ethiopia: a tale of two measurements," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(9), pages 835-839.
    10. Chun, Natalie, 2010. "Middle Class Size in the Past, Present, and Future: A Description of Trends in Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 217, Asian Development Bank.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Asongu, Simplice, 2015. "Growth and Institutions in African Development by Augustin K. Fosu," MPRA Paper 68656, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Simplice A. Asongu & Oasis Kodila-Tedika, 2018. "Institutions and Poverty: A Critical Comment Based on Evolving Currents and Debates," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 99-117, August.
    3. Ncube, Mthuli & Brixiova, Zuzana & Bicaba, Zorobabel, 2014. "Can Dreams Come True? Eliminating Extreme Poverty in Africa by 2030," IZA Discussion Papers 8120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Simplice A. Asongu & Julio Mukendi Kayembe, 2016. "Middle Class in Africa: Determinants and Consequences," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(4), pages 527-549, October.
    5. Jerven, Morten, 2014. "African growth miracle or statistical tragedy? Interpreting trends in the data over the past two decades," WIDER Working Paper Series 114, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. repec:taf:wjabxx:v:17:y:2016:i:2:p:129-147 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Diao, Xinshen & Fang, Peixun & Magalhaes, Eduardo & Pahl, Stefan & Silver, Jed, 2017. "Cities and rural transformation: A spatial analysis of rural youth livelihoods in Ghana," IFPRI discussion papers 1599, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Asongu, Simplice A. & Nwachukwu, Jacinta C., 2017. "Quality of Growth Empirics: Comparative gaps, benchmarking and policy syndromes," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 861-882.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    middle class; asset index; multiple correspondence analysis; regression decomposition;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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