Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It

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Cornell University Press, 2013 - Political Science - 176 pages
5 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. Jerven's 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 methods-but 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  - Lucy - Goodreads

Had some solid points and was well researched but droned on. The arguments could've been conveyed in half the number of pages. It also could have been more clearly written but to be fair, it was most likely written for those in the field of development economics and not the general populace. Read full review

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

User Review  - Phil Spencer - Goodreads

Really enjoyed the main idea of this book. I saw the author speak about the book before reading it, so I was already familiar with the core concepts. I was hoping the book were digger deeper than it ... Read full review

About the author (2013)

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

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