How Large Are African Inequalities?

Towards Distributional National Accounts in Africa, 1990-2017

WID.world Working Paper 2019/13
Lucas Chancel, Denis Cogneau, Amory Gethin, Alix Myczkowski
2019_10_Africa.PNG

This paper makes a first attempt to estimate the evolution of income inequality in Africa from 1990 to 2017 by combining surveys, tax data and national accounts in a systematic manner. The low quality of the raw data calls for a lot of caution. Results suggest that income inequality in Africa is very high, and stands at par with Latin America or India in that respect. Southern and Central Africa are particularly unequal. The bulk of continent-wide income inequality comes from the within country component, and the between country component was even slightly reduced in the two last decades, due to higher growth in poorer countries. Inequality was rather stable over the period, with the exception of Southern Africa. Dualism between agriculture and other sectors and mining rents seem to be important determinants of inequality.

Media coverage: Alternatives Economiques.