Four African case studies: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe

Sue Bowden and Paul Mosley

in The Politics of Poverty Reduction

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692125
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739286 | DOI:
Four African case studies: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe

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This chapter investigates the historical roots of poverty, with particular reference to the experience of Africa during the twentieth century. The chapter argues that the difference in poverty trajectories in Africa reflects the influence of policies on institutions and thence on levels of income distribution and poverty. It argues this thesis, using mortality rates as a proxy for poverty levels, with reference to two settler colonies – Zimbabwe and Kenya – and two peasant export colonies – Uganda and Ghana. The findings suggest that in Africa, settler-type political systems tended to produce highly unequal income distributions and, as a consequence, patterns of public expenditure and investment in human capital which were strongly biased against smallholder agriculture and thence against poverty reduction, whereas peasant-export type political systems produced more equal income distributions whose policy structures were less biased against the poor. Indeed, in Uganda and Ghana mortality rates were falling from the 1920s onward, rather than the 1950s as in the settler economies and much of the developing world. As a consequence, liberalisation during the 1980s and 1990s produced asymmetric results, with poverty falling sharply in the ‘peasant export’ and rising in the settler economies.

Keywords: poverty; conflict; public expenditure; institutions; aid donors; trust; fairness

Chapter.  11437 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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