At the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, Rhiannon Stephens is organizing what promises to be an excellent conference on the History of Poverty in Africa. Jane Guyer is giving a keynote on Thursday March 6, and then there is a full day on Friday with four panels and 13 papers ranging on dimensions of poverty from the pre-colonial period until current day. The programme looks very promising.
The Lancet has a regular column, called the Art of Medicine. I was asked to write something for them on the basis of Poor Numbers. Here it is.
“So manipuliert man mit Statistik” is the title the editors at Die Zeit put on it. This was a shortened version of piece originally written for the IPG-Journal.
The 9th African Symposium on Statistical Development takes place from 17th to 21st February 2014 in Gaborone, Botswana. I was invited by Pali Lehohla and I am really looking forward to a session on the “The facts and fiction of Africa’s statistics narrative” on Tuesday 18 February at 1700-1930. The program reads:
In 2013, a book titled: Poor Numbers:” How we are Misled by African Development Statistics and what to do about it”, was written by Professor Morten. Jerven. At its launch, a pan-African representation attended and a conclusion was drawn on the book subsequently by the delegation. The book stirred a lot of interesting discussions in media, political, economic and intellectual corridors. A project on documented statistical renaissance is about to be concluded by African scholars and practitioners. The session aims at presenting and discussing the book in the context of the statistical renaissance project. African practitioners and scholars will engage Professor Morten Jerven on his book.
Should be an interesting discussion.
Special issue on data and development in the World Politics Review out last week. Contributions from Claire Melamed, Jack Goldstone and I contributed a write up on the gaps in the macroeconomic statistics in some African countries.
Just came back from New York and the UNDP organized workshop and conference on Data and Accountability for Post-2015. You can browse the program and see some of the presentations here.
My sense is that despite all the talk of a ‘Data Revolution’ many central participants in the debate has still not clarified for themselves what ‘data’ means and much less what a revolution would entail. As I have expressed earlier I think we need to think more about the supply of high quality information, and discard the notion that as long as we demand evidence and wield unprecedented computing powers everything else will fall in line.
The call for papers for the Nordic Africa Days 2014 is out. It will take place on 26-27 September 2014 in Uppsala, Sweden. The keynote speakers at the event is Mo Ibrahim and yours sincerely.
The topic is ‘Misbehaving States and Behaving Citizens? Questions of Governance in African States’.
In Foreign Affairs, Nicolas van de Walle picks his top three books on Africa in 2013. Poor Numbers is one of the them. For review of the the other books, on the ANC and on corruption in Nigeria, see here.
Elsewhere, the Global Observatory compiles their Reading List for Peace and Security in 2014.
On his blog The Gates Notes, Bill Gates features Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It on his list of “The Best Books I Read in 2013.” Gates writes:
“Jerven, an economist, spent four years digging into how African nations get their statistics and the challenges they face in turning them into GDP estimates. He makes a strong case that a lot of GDP measurements we thought were accurate are far from it. But as I argue in my longer review, that doesn’t mean we know nothing about what works in development.”
I am writing the first of a series of posts on Agriculture and Politics for the blog Democracy in Africa. I talk about some findings in a recent paper, and how it relates to the general political economy of statistics in poor countries.
Some time ago I spoke with a representative from The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) about statistics in Africa. Here’s the interview.