Do Demographics Matter for African Child Poverty?

23 Pages Posted: 4 May 2018

See all articles by Yele Maweki Batana

Yele Maweki Batana

World Bank

John Cockburn

Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP); Université Laval; Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP)

Date Written: May 3, 2018


The effect of demographics on poverty measurement based on per capita consumption is well known. The size and composition of the household can affect the well-being of everyone in the household, with respect to total consumption within that household. Failure to address this issue may often lead to an underestimation or overestimation of poverty, especially for children. Many studies have tried to address the issue, using the generic approach of equivalence scales. However, the choice of scale is controversial and may lead to comparability problems between countries because of the different demographic structures and choice of the pivot household for establishing the per capita poverty line. Based on the World Bank's African poverty database, this study estimates poverty rates for African children using the new international poverty line of $1.90 a day defined in terms of 2011 purchasing power parity. The equivalence scales approach (Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization) is used with the adjustment suggested by Deaton after the identification of the pivot household, which is defined as the household whose per capita consumption is around the international poverty line. This study shows that taking account of demographics results in downward adjustments of child poverty, adult poverty, and child-adult poverty gaps. Moreover, breakdowns by country show that poverty may vary significantly depending on demographics, which may cause some reranking when comparing poverty between African countries. Finally, sensitivity analyses reveal that child poverty is not sensitive to the child discount factor, unlike adult poverty, but, overall, taking account of demographics is helpful for better identifying poor children.

Keywords: Inequality, Demographics, Poverty Monitoring & Analysis, Poverty Diagnostics, Poverty Lines, Poverty Impact Evaluation, Small Area Estimation Poverty Mapping, Poverty Assessment, Economic Conditions and Volatility

Suggested Citation

Batana, Yele Maweki and Cockburn, John, Do Demographics Matter for African Child Poverty? (May 3, 2018). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8426. Available at SSRN:

Yele Maweki Batana (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

John Cockburn

Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) ( email )

P.O. Box 30772-00100
ICIPE - Duduville Campus, Kasarani

Université Laval ( email )

Dept. of Economics
Québec, Quebec G1V 0A6

Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) ( email )

Duduville Campus, Kasarani
P.O. Box 30772-00100

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