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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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Agriculture, rural poverty and income inequality in sub-saharan Africa

The developmental role of agriculture has long been recognized in the literature. As a leading sector of most economies in the developing world, agriculture helps facilitate industrial growth and structural economic transformation. Agriculture plays a multidimensional role in the development process, which includes eliciting economic growth, generating employment opportunities, contributing to value chains, reducing poverty, lowering income disparities, ensuring food security, delivering environmental services and providing foreign exchange earnings, among others. Due to the neglect of this sector, development progress has been hindered in a number of countries, which explains why 75 per cent of world poverty is rural and why sectoral income disparities have exploded, as well as why intense food insecurity and environmental degradation have become widespread (World Bank, 2007; Byerlee, de Janvry and Sadoulet, 2009).

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