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Income Inequality Trends in sub-Saharan Africa

Divergence, Determinants, and Consequences

image of Income Inequality Trends in sub-Saharan Africa

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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Resource dependence and inequality in Africa: impacts, consequences and potential solutions

Over the last decade an increasing number of the world’s fastest-growing countries have been in Africa. This recent progress created widespread optimism among many as economic development prospects across many parts of the continent improved. This optimism has, however, been accompanied by concerns regarding the inclusivity and longer-term sustainability of the current growth processes, which have been driven largely by extractive industries. Moreover, situating the observed growth in a broader historical context is important. Similar optimism accompanied the relatively short-lived growth boom in Africa following the Second World War (1950-1970), which provided limited longrun gains and should perhaps serve as a cautionary example in the current growth climate (Broadberry and Gardner, 2013). Going further back, Jerven (2010) suggests that periods of rapid growth, followed by reversals, have characterised economic performance in the region for several centuries, with commodity demand always the driving force behind these ‘booms and busts’.

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