Income Inequality Trends in sub-Saharan Africa

Divergence, Determinants, and Consequences

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Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) recorded a remarkable economic performance in the first 15 years of the 21st century. Such an encouraging trend, which reversed the stagnation or decline of the prior 25 years, was accompanied by a perceptible, modest, but uneven decline in aggregate poverty, together with substantial cross-country variation in the poverty-reducing power of growth. This is reflected in, and partially driven by, the variation of inequality levels and trends among the African countries. Proper documentation of inequality levels and trends in the region therefore becomes essential in order to better understand the slow and varying rate of decline of poverty reduction in the region. To this end, this book, an outcome of a comprehensive study of income inequality in SSA, documents the initial conditions and changes in income inequality that have taken place in the region since the early 1990s. It proposes hypotheses to account for this experience and draws relevant lessons that could help accelerate reduction in income disparities.

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Social protection and inequality in Africa: Exploring the interactions

The World Bank (2015) reports that, in 2014, almost 1.9 billion individuals in the developing world – roughly one-third of the population in these countries – benefitted from social protection programmes. This is disproportionately driven by the size of the programmes in large countries such as China and India. The World Bank estimates that nearly one-third of individuals in the developing world receive benefits from a social protection programme. This compares favourably with the estimated average coverage rate of 25.0 per cent in SSA. The latter suggests that approximately 250 million individuals in SSA are beneficiaries of some form of social protection programme, almost equivalent to the number of beneficiaries of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

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