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Aid and Poverty in Africa: Do Well-being Measures Understate the Progress?
Authors: Yélé Maweki Batana
Source: African Development Review, 22(3): 452–469; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8268.2010.00256.x
Topic(s): Poverty
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: SEP 2010
Abstract: In the last 15 years international aid donors to Africa have shifted their focus dramatically toward health and education; the share of social sector support in total aid rose from 33 per cent to 60 per cent from 1990–94 to 2000–2004 alone. If this aid has been effective, it is unlikely to be captured in GDP or income poverty figures. This paper uses the Demographic and Health Survey at multiple points in time to explore changes in well-being in ten sub-Saharan African countries. It compares the evolution of both assets and health which are considered as the two main dimensions of well-being. These dimensions are simultaneously estimated using the structural equation models with latent variables that have been developed in the psychometric literature. The comparisons of well-being across time in each country are based on the stochastic dominance analysis. The main results suggest that assets and health have improved during the last two decades in most of these countries. A decline in assets is observed for three countries while health deteriorates in two countries. The reduced poverty appears to be explained less by the aid than other factors in most cases.