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An extraordinary paper on poverty reduction across Africa by Columbia’s Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy shows: The proportion of Africans in poverty is declining The continent is due to reach its Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living on $1 a day or less by 2015 Income inequality is decreasing My first ...

An extraordinary paper on poverty reduction across Africa by Columbia’s Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy shows:

  • The proportion of Africans in poverty is declining
  • The continent is due to reach its Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living on $1 a day or less by 2015
  • Income inequality is decreasing

My first thought was that the study might be so broad as to be misleading. Countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo have suffered from violent conflict and declines in GDP in the past decade; countries like South Africa haven’t. It’s a billion-person continent. It’s hard, and in some ways useless, to generalize.

Thus, perhaps the most remarkable finding is that "poverty reduction… cannot be explained by a large country or even by a single set of countries." The authors note: "[P]overty fell for both landlocked as well as coastal countries; for mineral-rich as well as mineral-poor countries; for countries with favorable or with unfavorable agriculture; for countries regardless of colonial origin; and for countries with below- or above-median slave exports per capita during the African slave trade."

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