Growth, distribution, and poverty in Africa : messages from the 1990s
review recent evidence on the trends in household well-being in Africa during the 1990s. They draw on the findings of a series of studies on poverty dynamics that use the better data sets now available. The authors begin by taking a broad view of poverty, tracing changes in both income poverty and in other more direct measures of individual welfare. Experiences have been varied: several countries have seen a sharp decline in poverty, while some have witnessed a marked increase. Yet, in the aggregate, economic growth has been pro-poor. Nonetheless, the aggregate numbers also hide significant and systematic distributional effects which have caused some groups to be left behind. The authors draw four key conclusions: Economic policy reforms (improving macroeconomic balances and liberalizing markets) have been conducive to reducing poverty. Market connectedness is key for the poor to benefit from new opportunities generated by economic growth. Some population groups and regions, by virtue of their sheer remoteness, have been left behind when growth picks up. Education and access to land further condition the extent to which households can benefit from economic opportunities and escape poverty. Finally, rainfall variations and ill health are found to have profound effects on poverty outcomes in Africa underscoring the significance of social protection in a poverty reduction strategy.
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