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African growth miracle or statistical tragedy? Interpreting trends in the data over the past two decades

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  • Jerven, Morten

Abstract

This paper reviews the current problems of national accounting in Sub-Saharan Africa. With the current uneven application of methods and availability of data, any ranking of countries according to gross domestic product levels is misleading. It is increasingly acknowledged that the problems associated with national accounts in Africa may have caused growth to be underestimated, and there are concerns that gross domestic product does not capture or cohere with concurrent trends on poverty and wealth from other surveys. It is argued that this varies from country to country, and that in some countries current wealth is underestimated, whereas in others recent growth is overestimated.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2014-114
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    File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/wp2014-114.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Morten Jerven, 2010. "Random Growth in Africa? Lessons from an Evaluation of the Growth Evidence on Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, 1965-1995," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 274-294.
    2. Morten Jerven, 2011. "Growth, Stagnation or Retrogression? On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, Tanzania, 1961–2001," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(3), pages 377-394, June.
    3. Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "An African Growth Miracle? Or: What do Asset Indices Tell Us About Trends in Economic Performance?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 37-61, October.
    4. Xi Chen & William D. Nordhaus, 2010. "The Value of Luminosity Data as a Proxy for Economic Statistics," NBER Working Papers 16317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Moradi, Alexander & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Data and New Insights from Anthropometric Estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1233-1265, August.
    6. Jerven, Morten, 2014. "Economic Growth and Measurement Reconsidered in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, 1965-1995," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199689910.
    7. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
    8. 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).
    9. Morten Jerven, 2013. "Comparability of GDP estimates in Sub-Saharan Africa: The effect of Revisions in Sources and Methods Since Structural Adjustment," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 16-36, October.
    10. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Maxim Pinkovskiy, 2010. "African Poverty is Falling...Much Faster than You Think!," NBER Working Papers 15775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Morten Jerven, 2011. "The quest for the African dummy: explaining African post‐colonial economic performance revisited," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 288-307, March.
    12. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
    13. Morten Jerven, 2014. "A West African experiment: constructing a GDP series for colonial Ghana, 1891–1950," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 964-992, November.
    14. Morten Jerven, 2013. "Agricultural Statistics," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 14(1), pages 1-10, January.
    15. Andy McKay, 2013. "Growth and Poverty Reduction in Africa in the Last Two Decades: Evidence from an AERC Growth-Poverty Project and Beyond," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(suppl_1), pages -76, January.
    16. Jerven, Morten, 2012. "An unlevel playing field: national income estimates and reciprocal comparison in global economic history," Journal of Global History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 107-128, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lionel Roger, 2018. "Blinded by the light? Heterogeneity in the luminosity-growth nexus and the African growth miracle," Discussion Papers 2018-04, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    2. Mensah, Emmanuel Buadi & Szirmai, Adam, 2018. "Africa Sector Database (ASD): Expansion and update," MERIT Working Papers 020, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Asongu, Simplice & Azia-Dimbu, Florentin, 2015. "Statistics and IQ in Developing Countries: A Note," MPRA Paper 68323, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Mveyange Anthony, 2015. "Night lights and regional income inequality in Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 085, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    Keywords

    economic growth; national income accounting; Sub-Saharan Africa;

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