This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lived Poverty High in Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa remains the economically least developed region in the world, characterized as well by the world's highest levels of mortality and fertility. But development has been occurring over the past decade and so maybe life was getting better? It seems not, according to a new report from Afrobarometer.org (and thanks to Justin Stoler for pointing me to this). Afrobarometer is a non-profit organization in sub-Saharan Africa (currently headquartered in Ghana), which is an "African-led series of national public attitude surveys on democracy and governance in Africa." Here is the lead-in to the report:
New data from Round 5 of the Afrobarometer, collected across an unprecedented 34 African countries between October 2011 and June 2013, demonstrates that “lived poverty” remains pervasive across the continent. This data, based on the views and experiences of ordinary citizens, counters projections of declining poverty rates that have been derived from official GDP growth rates. For the 16 countries where these questions have been asked over the past decade, we find little evidence for systematic reduction of lived poverty despite average GDP growth rates of 4.8% per year over the same period. 
By way of definition:
As a contribution to the debate about poverty in Africa, the Afrobarometer offers the Lived Poverty Index (LPI), an experiential measure that consists of a series of survey questions that measure how frequently people actually go without basic necessities during the course of a year. It measures a portion of the central core of the concept of poverty that is not well captured by existing measures, and thus offers an important complement to official statistics on poverty and development.
These data are consistent with results that our research team has produced, based on our Women's Health Study of Accra and a subset of respondents in the Time Use and Health Survey. Accra is one of the more prosperous capital cities in West Africa, yet we found that half of the respondents in a stratified random sample of households were living on less than $2 per day (Fink, G., J. R. Weeks, and A. G. Hill. 2012. Income and Health in Accra, Ghana: Results from the Time Use and Health Study. American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 87 (4):608-615).

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