Poor Numbers

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Cornell University Press, Jan 24, 2013 - History - 187 pages
2 Reviews

One of the most urgent challenges in African economic development is to devise a strategy for improving statistical capacity. Reliable statistics, including estimates of economic growth rates and per-capita income, are basic to the operation of governments in developing countries and vital to nongovernmental organizations and other entities that provide financial aid to them. Rich countries and international financial institutions such as the World Bank allocate their development resources on the basis of such data. The paucity of accurate statistics is not merely a technical problem; it has a massive impact on the welfare of citizens in developing countries.

Where do these statistics originate? How accurate are they? Poor Numbers is the first analysis of the production and use of African economic development statistics. Morten Jerven's research shows how the statistical capacities of sub-Saharan African economies have fallen into disarray. The numbers substantially misstate the actual state of affairs. As a result, scarce resources are misapplied. Development policy does not deliver the benefits expected. Policymakers' attempts to improve the lot of the citizenry are frustrated. Donors have no accurate sense of the impact of the aid they supply. Jervenís findings from sub-Saharan Africa have far-reaching implications for aid and development policy. As Jerven notes, the current catchphrase in the development community is "evidence-based policy," and scholars are applying increasingly sophisticated econometric methodsóbut no statistical techniques can substitute for partial and unreliable data.

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Review: Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics

User Review  - Karmen - Goodreads

Must read for users of African data! A good reminder to be cautious when creating new 'knowledge'. I would caution though that while some national statistical offices in Africa are in shambles, others ... Read full review

Review: Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics

User Review  - Razia Khan - Goodreads

Interesting read, but the Private Sector does possess data - so not as bad a situation as he makes out Read full review

About the author (2013)

Morten Jerven is Assistant Professor in the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University.