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THE HISTORY OF AFRICAN POVERTY BY NUMBERS : EVIDENCE AND VANTAGE POINTS

Jerven, Morten LU (2018) In Journal of African History 59(3). p.449-461
Abstract

Poverty has a long history in Africa. Yet, the most conventional and influential history of African poverty is a very short one. As told by the World Bank, the history of poverty starts in the 1980s with the first Living Standard Measurement Study. This history of poverty by numbers is also a very narrow one. There is a disconnect between the theoretical and historical underpinnings of how academics understand and define poverty in Africa, and how it has been quantified in practice. While it is generally agreed that poverty is multidimensional and has certain time- and location-specific aspects, the shorthand definition for poverty is the dollar-per-day metric. This article reveals how particular types of knowledge about poverty have... (More)

Poverty has a long history in Africa. Yet, the most conventional and influential history of African poverty is a very short one. As told by the World Bank, the history of poverty starts in the 1980s with the first Living Standard Measurement Study. This history of poverty by numbers is also a very narrow one. There is a disconnect between the theoretical and historical underpinnings of how academics understand and define poverty in Africa, and how it has been quantified in practice. While it is generally agreed that poverty is multidimensional and has certain time- and location-specific aspects, the shorthand definition for poverty is the dollar-per-day metric. This article reveals how particular types of knowledge about poverty have gained prominence and thus shaped the dominant interpretation of poverty in Africa. It argues that, based on other numerical evidence, the history of poverty in Africa could be radically different from the dominant interpretation today.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Anthropometrics, Living Standards, Measurement, Poverty, Real Wages, Statistics, World Bank
in
Journal of African History
volume
59
issue
3
pages
13 pages
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:85060786967
ISSN
0021-8537
DOI
10.1017/S0021853718000440
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
399e4b79-810c-4e15-a392-98061d5c04f3
date added to LUP
2019-02-15 11:13:44
date last changed
2019-05-21 04:18:51
@article{399e4b79-810c-4e15-a392-98061d5c04f3,
  abstract     = {<p>Poverty has a long history in Africa. Yet, the most conventional and influential history of African poverty is a very short one. As told by the World Bank, the history of poverty starts in the 1980s with the first Living Standard Measurement Study. This history of poverty by numbers is also a very narrow one. There is a disconnect between the theoretical and historical underpinnings of how academics understand and define poverty in Africa, and how it has been quantified in practice. While it is generally agreed that poverty is multidimensional and has certain time- and location-specific aspects, the shorthand definition for poverty is the dollar-per-day metric. This article reveals how particular types of knowledge about poverty have gained prominence and thus shaped the dominant interpretation of poverty in Africa. It argues that, based on other numerical evidence, the history of poverty in Africa could be radically different from the dominant interpretation today.</p>},
  author       = {Jerven, Morten},
  issn         = {0021-8537},
  keyword      = {Anthropometrics,Living Standards,Measurement,Poverty,Real Wages,Statistics,World Bank},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {11},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {449--461},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {Journal of African History},
  title        = {THE HISTORY OF AFRICAN POVERTY BY NUMBERS : EVIDENCE AND VANTAGE POINTS},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853718000440},
  volume       = {59},
  year         = {2018},
}