1st Edition

Statistical Tragedy in Africa? Evaluating the Database for African Economic Development

Edited By Morten Jerven, Deborah Johnston Copyright 2016
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    What do we know about economic development in Africa? The answer is that we know much less than we would like to think. This collection assesses the knowledge problem present in statistics on poverty, agriculture, labour, education, health, and economic growth. While diverse in origin, the contributors to this book are unified in two conclusions: the quality and quantity of data needs to be improved; and this is a concern not just for statisticians. Weaknesses in statistical methodology and practice can misinform policy makers, international agencies, donors, the private sector, and the citizens of African countries themselves. This is also a problem for academics from various disciplines, from history and economics to social epidemiology and education policy. Not only does academic work on Africa regularly use flawed data, but many problems encountered in surveys challenge common academic abstractions. By exploring these flaws, this book will provide a guide for scholars, policy makers, and all those using and commissioning surveys in Africa. This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Development Studies.

    Foreword Morten Jerven

    Introduction: Statistical Tragedy in Africa? Evaluating the Data Base for African Economic Development Morten Jerven and Deborah Johnston

    1. The Political Economy of Bad Data: Evidence from African Survey and Administrative Statistics Justin Sandefur and Amanda Glassman

    2. From Tragedy to Renaissance: Improving Agricultural Data for Better Policies Calogero Carletto, Dean Jolliffe and Raka Banerjee

    3. The Invisibility of Wage Employment in Statistics on the Informal Economy in Africa: Causes and Consequences Matteo Rizzo, Blandina Kilama and Marc Wuyts

    4. Poverty in African Households: the Limits of Survey and Census Representations Sara Randall and Ernestina Coast

    5. The Making of the Middle-Class in Africa: Evidence from DHS Data Abebe Shimeles and Mthuli Ncube

    6. Random Growth in Africa? Lessons from an Evaluation of the Growth Evidence on Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, 1965-1995 Morten Jerven

    7. GDP Revisions and Updating Statistical Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa: Reports from the Statistical Offices in Nigeria, Liberia and Zimbabwe Morten Jerven, Yemi Kale, Magnus Ebo Duncan and Moffat Nyoni


    Morten Jerven is an Associate Professor in the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, and Associate Professor in Global Change and International Relations at Norwegian University of Life Sciences in ├ůs, Norway.

    Deborah Johnston is a Reader in Development Economics at SOAS, University of London, UK. She has published widely on poverty, HIV, nutrition, and labour in African countries, and published a recent book, Economics and HIV: The Sickness of Economics (Routledge, 2013).