Despite decades of research and advances in data and methodologies, measuring poverty and reconciling this with patterns of economic growth is a complex issue. This contentiousness, and the fact that poverty remains widespread and persistent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and in other parts of the globe, charged UNU-WIDER to launch in 2011 a major research project—Reconciling Africa’s Growth, Poverty, and Inequality Trends: Growth and Poverty Project (GAPP)—to re-examine growth, poverty, and inequality trends in SSA and in other developing regions.
Another key motivation for the GAPP project was that poverty analysis in developing countries remains, to a surprisingly high degree, an activity undertaken by technical assistance personnel and consultants based in developed countries. This book was designed to enhance the transparency, replicability, and comparability of existing practice; and in so doing, it also aims to significantly lower the barriers to entry to the conduct of rigorous poverty measurement and increase the participation of analysts from developing countries in their own poverty assessment.
The book focuses on the measurement of absolute consumption poverty as well as a specific approach to multidimensional analysis of binary poverty indicators. The intent is not to give the impression that these two domains alone are sufficient for rigorous poverty assessment. On the contrary, the editors highlight that this book is designed to serve as a companion to the recently published volume entitled Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (Arndt, McKay, and Tarp 2016). That volume emphasizes repeatedly the desirability of the application of multiple approaches across multiple datasets combined with a concerted effort to triangulate results in order to develop a reasonably complete and coherent picture of living standards and their evolution as one moves across space or through time.
I hereby sincerely express my appreciation and admiration of the academic and analytical skills of the entire project team that made this volume possible and the detailed methodological expertise and knowledge of the case countries brought out so clearly. It is my hope that the tools developed in this volume will be adopted by scholars and analysts in Africa, other developing (p.vi) regions, and beyond, in taking charge of the poverty analyses of developments in their respective countries.
The research project—Reconciling Africa’s Growth, Poverty, and Inequality Trends—was generously supported by the governments of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, with a special project contribution additionally provided by the Finnish government. UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges this vital research funding.
Helsinki, October 2016