Poverty

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The experience of poverty in South Africa: A summary of Afrobarometer indicators, 2000-2011

Afrobarometer surveys generate a variety of measures of individuals’ economic status and experience with poverty, which can be compared at both the sub-national (e.g., by province or urban vs. rural) and cross-national levels. The surveys also collect data on respondents’ access to and utilization of public services, and on their political engagement.

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Ghanaians negative on national economy and living conditions

Most Ghanaians describe their country’s economic condition and their own living conditions as “bad” or “very bad,” the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.

The findings also indicate that nearly four in 10 Ghanaians are pessimistic about economic conditions in the coming year. The data is being released as Ghana engages with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners in an effort to boost international confidence and solicit support for the country's programme for economic stabilization and growth.

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BP155: ‘Lived poverty’ can inform Swazi anti-poverty efforts

Poverty continues to be a major challenge in Swaziland, exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the Swazi population were living in severe poverty in 2012 (Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, 2012). The 2012 Human Development Index (HDI) reported that in 2007, 40% of the population were surviving on food aid from the United Nations (UNDP, 2012), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reported that 66% of the population were unable to meet basic food needs while 43% were living in chronic poverty (IFAD, 2007).

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Economic well-being of Sierra Leoneans, public service delivery and national government performance

<p>&nbsp;Findings on evaluations of the economy and national government from the Round 5 (2012) survey in Sierra Leone.</p><p><a href="/sites/default/files/media-briefing/sierra-leone/srl_r5_presentation1.pdf" target="_blank">Download the full document</a></p>

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Government far from winning war on poverty despite concerted eradication efforts

More Batswana report experiencing deprivation of basic needs such as water, cash income, and food, according to a new Afrobarometer study. Close to four in ten (37%), in 2014 report having gone without cash income "many times" or "always" as compared to 33% in 2003. Food remains a problem, with 15% Batswana reporting deprivation from food "many times" or "always"- compared to 16% in 2014 and 10% in 2008.

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BP147: Gender equality and the participation of women in public office in Swaziland

Despite major efforts over the past two decades to create equal opportunities for women to participate in politics and to increase female representation in government leadership in sub-Saharan Africa, women's inclusion continues to be a major challenge.According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2013,the proportion of seats held by women in single or lower houses of national parliaments in sub-Saharan Africa increased by just 8 percentage points between 2000 and 2013, from 13% to 21%.

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BP145: Botswana’s economic performance rating slips: Working-aged people express dissatisfaction with living conditions

Academic and policy researchers in Botswana have been unanimous in their analysis of Botswana’s economic shape. Dubbed an “economic miracle” by some (Samatar, 1999) and a “shining example” by others, Botswana continues to enjoy praise for its economic performance. Even against the projected economic slowdown due to the on- going global economic crisis, Botswana’s economy is said to be doing well as witnessed by its 8.0 percent GDP growth in 2011.

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BP120: Trapped in underdevelopment: The permanence of poverty and food insecurity in Malawi

Reviewing Malawi Government development policy documents gives the impression that poverty and underdevelopment is a permanent feature. Earlier development plans, namely the Statement of Development Policies 1971-1980 (GOM, 1970), and Statement of Development Policies 1986-1995 (GOM, 1986), both declared that poverty – manifested through hunger, illiteracy and disease – were main enemies they intended to fight.

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BP87: Economic conditions, living conditions and poverty in Mozambique

Since the 1990s, Mozambique has been realizing the benefits the economic policy shifts of the late 1980s, including structural adjustment, privatization and liberalization, and conservative fiscal and monetary policies.  By the late 1990s, Mozambqiue had “recorded some of the highest levels of annual economic growth in Africa, averaging 6 to 10 percent per annum”.   And with exception of the rapid price rises in the flood years of 2000 and 2001, inflation has been brought down to single digits.

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BP68: Poverty reduction, economic growth and democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa

In this Briefing Paper, we find that even with the significant growth that Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced over the past decade, as of 2008 lived poverty (or the extent to which people regularly go without basic necessities) is still extensive.  It has declined in 9 of the Afrobarometer countries for which we have over time data during this period, it has increased in 6 countries.  We find that cross-national differences in economic growth help explain differing country trajectories in lived poverty.

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BP42: Surging economic optimism amid enduring poverty

South Africa’s strong economic performance of the past few years has not been registered simply in official growth rates, but also in the positive evaluations of ordinary citizens. At the same time, it seems that economic growth has not yet succeeded in reducing the number of South Africans who regularly go without the basic necessities of life.

This is one of the many important results revealed by the recent Afrobarometer survey of a representative sample of 2,400 South Africans, conducted in January and February 2006 by Citizen Surveys.

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BP34: Delivery of social services on mainland Tanzania: Are people satisfied?

Effective access to functioning and well-equipped social services is a prerequisite to improving the quality of life and for promoting the well being of all Tanzanians. The Afrobarometer has now tracked Tanzanians’ perceptions of the quality of social service delivery – specifically with respect to education, water supply and health – for three rounds of nationally representative survey s, in 2001, 2003 and 2005.

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BP13: Lived poverty in South Africa

Despite 10 years of massive investment in development infrastructure, many South Africans continue to experience daily poverty.  In fact, the proportions of South Africans who experience regular shortages of basic necessities do not appear to have decreased over the past four years.

This is one of the many important findings revealed by the most recent Afrobarometer survey conducted in South Africa in October / November 2004.  

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BP4: Poverty, poverty measurement, and democracy in Southern Africa

How does poverty shape the prospects for consolidating democratic government?

Political analysts have long believed that sustaining democratic government in a poor society is harder than in a relatively wealthy one.   This is a sobering thought for all those committed to democracy in Africa.  

To explore the political dynamics of poverty, we use data from seven 1999-2000 Afrobarometer surveys in Southern Africa to develop an index of poverty and then test its impact on political attitudes and behaviours critical to democracy. 

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WP139: Exploiting the poor: Bureaucratic corruption and poverty in Africa

Corruption is a major source of slow development in Africa – the poorest region of the world. While extant research has focused on the causes and consequences of corruption at the macro-level, less effort has been devoted to understanding the micro-foundation of corruption, as well as the mechanisms through which poverty may be related to corruption and bribery. In this paper, we develop a simple model of the relationship between poverty and corruption. The model suggests that poor people are more likely to be victims of corrupt behavior by street-level government bureaucrats.

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WP133: Too poor to care? The salience of AIDS in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the part of the world that is most severely affected by HIV/AIDS. Yet, surveys of attitudes to AIDS across African countries show that most people do not attach great importance to the issue. Given the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, this appears paradoxical. This paper argues that the salience of AIDS is low in Africa because many people are too poor to consider the disease important. This means that AIDS is crowded out by other issues – such as poverty, hunger, and unemployment – that have more immediate consequences for people’s lives.

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WP98: The material and political bases of lived poverty in Africa: Insights from the Afrobarometer

The Afrobarometer has developed an experiential measure of lived poverty (how frequently people go without basic necessities during the course of a year) that measures a portion of the central core of the concept of poverty not captured by existing objective or subjective measures. Empirically, the measure has strong individual level construct validity and reliability within any cross national round of surveys. Yet it also displays inconsistent levels of external validity as a measure of aggregate level poverty when compared to other objective, material measures of poverty or well being.

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WP86: Corruption, institutional discredit, and exclusion of the poor: A poverty trap

The vast majority of empirical studies focus mainly on the indirect effects of corruption on poverty using cross-section analyses of macroeconomic aggregates (growth, investment, public expenditure, etc.). To date, relatively few studies have set out to explain the logic of individual behaviour in the face of corruption and the direct effects of this scourge on the poor.

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WP76: Optimism and poverty in Africa: Adaptation or a means to survival?

Recent research finds that higher levels of optimism and happiness are associated with other positive traits and behaviors, such as productivity in the labor market, better health, and support for democracy and markets. We compare these findings to new survey data for Africa, in an attempt to understand these relationships in conditions of extreme adversity. We find unusual levels of optimism among the poorest and most insecure respondents there, in contrast to the other regions, where optimism is positively correlated with wealth and education.

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WP60: Where is Africa going? Views from below: A compendium of trends in public opinion in 12 African countries, 1999-2006

Where is Africa going? This compendium summarizes both continental trends and divergent country directions. It is based on three rounds of Afrobarometer public opinion surveys, 1999-2006. Among the many original results are the following: Even though Africans increasingly worry about unemployment and food insecurity, they are politically patient; they are not ready to reject democracy simply because it may fail at economic delivery. And even though Africans consistently consider the economic present to be worse then the economic past, they see better times ahead.

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WP56: Poor people and democratic citizenship in Africa

Recent political transitions around the world have cast doubt on arguments about the socioeconomic preconditions for democracy. A democratic political regime has long been regarded as an attribute of high-income, industrialized economies. Yet new scholarship has revised this law by observing that “third wave” democracies have been installed in both rich and poor countries. We can only do justice to this topic, however, by testing the same relationship at a micro-level. Are poor people any more or less attached to democracy than rich people?

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PP18: A window on policy priorities: Evidence from the citizens of 34 African countries

The post-2015 sustainable development discourse has emphasized the need for a more inclusive and participatory policy framework projecting the voices of the people in policy-making and implementation processes. Some commentators have argued that while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have achieved some poverty reduction, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be better designed to enhance the living standards of the people. Yet not much has been done to create the necessary space for citizens’ voices to be heard.

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