Poverty and inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) should not be
ascertained only on the basis of scarce and unreliable income
distribution statistics, but should also take into account social
conditions. Recent, widely disseminated claims that poverty and
inequality have increased over the past 30 years are based on
regional income estimates with falling medians and rising upper
variances over that period. Graphically, this translates into
pyramid-shaped income distributions that, perversely, shift to the
left and widen over time. However, during the same period social
indicators improved significantly (if insufficiently), and we argue
in this paper that such a trend represents progress with social
equity in SSA. This point is illustrated through the configuration
of alternative social pyramids that move for most of the last 30
years in the right direction. However, more recently, social
indicators are being set back by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which will
generate greater and more dehumanizing poverty in the years ahead
even if meaningful economic growth is achieved. As underscored by
the multiplicity of pyramid representations, poverty and inequality
time trends in SSA can thus best be described as disconcerting in
that they remain arguably illusive and definitely disturbing.
International Monetary Fund
|Country of origin:
Paulo Silva Lopes
||Electronic book text
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