Living Standards in Africa

Cornell Food and Nutrition Policy Program Working Paper No. 225

60 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007

See all articles by David E. Sahn

David E. Sahn

Cornell University

Stephen D. Younger

Tulane University - CEQ Institute

Date Written: August 2007


This paper substantiates two claims - that Africa is poor compared to the rest of the world and that poverty in Africa is not declining consistently or significantly, in contrast to other regions of the world. We consider poverty in the dimensions of health and education, in addition to income, stressing the inherent conceptual and measurement issues that commend such a broader perspective. We note a lack of consistency in the movement of the poverty measures. During similar periods, we often find them moving in opposite directions. We therefore discuss the need go beyond examining each poverty measure individually, and present an approach to evaluating poverty reduction in multiple dimensions jointly. The results of the multidimensional poverty comparisons reinforce the importance of considering deprivation beyond the material standard of living and provide insight into how to reconcile differing stories that arise from examining each indicator separately.

Suggested Citation

Sahn, David E. and Younger, Stephen D., Living Standards in Africa (August 2007). Cornell Food and Nutrition Policy Program Working Paper No. 225, Available at SSRN: or

David E. Sahn (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

B16 MVR Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8931 (Phone)
607-255-0178 (Fax)


Stephen D. Younger

Tulane University - CEQ Institute ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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