Article written

  • on 11.05.2016
  • at 12:48 PM
  • by Staff

Another $15 billion missing from Nigeria’s government 0

First up, is the chart below from the newly launched Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP) spearheaded by Professor Sanjay Reddy of the New School for Social Research. (We’ve written before about Professor Reddy’s work challenging the World Bank’s poverty estimates here.) The chart shows levels of income inequality across African countries for the year 2014 (most recent year with available data).

Inequality is measured using the Gini Coefficient which measures inequality on a scale of zero to one. (A Gini closer to zero means low inequality while that closer to one means high inequality.)

Surprisingly, Nigeria, with a Gini of 0.4883, has the lowest level of inequality on the continent. Unsurprisingly, South Africa, with a Gini of 0.6624, has the highest inequality measure on the continent. The other countries fall somewhere in between these two extreme cases.

chart 1

The second chart, just below, digs into the underlying factors behind South Africa’s high inequality. First published by The Economist in December 2013 (after Nelson Mandela’s death), it shows, among other things, the evolution of average incomes per person across different racial groups in South Africa from 1917 to 2011. The first takeaway from the chart is that before the official ending of apartheid in 1994, average incomes for whites rose at rates that were considerably higher than those of other racial groups (see the blue line) – unsurprising as this was Apartheid’s main aim. The second takeaway is that the “freedom bonus” largely accrued to whites only – their average incomes nearly doubled over the period 1994 to 2011. This too is unsurprising as the opening up of South Africa’s economy after 1994 was only going to benefit those who had previously been privileged in accumulating capital (real estate, land, equity, savings, etcetera) and skills.

The chart is a great antidote to those who think history doesn’t matter in South Africa. We are especially looking at you, yes you, the choir that likes to sing the “black people are just lazy” song. (H/T to Josh Budlender on Twitter)

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by Grieve Chelwa

Photo Credits: Global Consumption and Income Project

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