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5.0 out of 5 stars I decided to read Poor Numbers after it appeared on Bill Gates list of ..., 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Poor Numbers: How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) (Paperback)
I decided to read Poor Numbers after it appeared on Bill Gates list of best books of 2013 and certainly do not regret doing so. The Author, Morten Jerven is an associate professor at the Simon Fraser University and specialises in African Economic Development. Whilst the book is more of a scholarly tome than normal popular books on development I think the subject benefits greatly from the rigorous, yet still accessible, approach Mr Jerven takes.
The book discusses the source and reliability of a range of statistical measures used primarily to measure African economic development but in doing so I think it raises questions about a whole range of economic statistics and how these are applied for global comparison purposes.
The book is divided into four main chapters. The first presents a realistic appraisal of the current state of African GDP statistics. The second covers a brief historical survey of the evolution of national income accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa. The third discusses the link between statistics and state capacity. Chapter 4 provides a detailed appraisal of the institutional, political and financial framework in which today’s African statistical offices operate. Finally Mr Jerven concludes with a number of policy remedies to address the current state of economic statistics in Africa.
The scholarly approach certainly does not make this a quick read and on the surface would only appeal to those interested in African development. However, the thorough, but not laborious approach and Mr Jerven’s compelling writing makes this an essential read for anyone interested in economic development in general and offers a cautionary tale for those using and manipulating any aggregated data set.
A superb and necessary book on the subject.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant overview of an overlooked issue in global development, 17 Feb 2013
This review is from: Poor Numbers: How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) (Paperback)
I've done a masters in Economic History and International Development at London School of Economics and I found Jerven's book Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) to be a well-written overview of a pressing issue that no one has ever talked about before.

The subject matter is weighty and data-centric. The author's clear and compelling writing style, as well as entertaining anecdotes from his research trips throughout sub Saharan Africa, make this a first-rate read both for experts and novices curious about international development, aid and global inequality. Jerven does an excellent job of answering the subtitle's question: "How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It."

The impact from this book should be huge - from the World Bank, to the aid sector and commercial banking.

Hope he writes more soon. Kudos!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent analysis of the fraility of statistics as a basis ..., 13 Aug 2014
This review is from: Poor Numbers: How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) (Paperback)
An excellent analysis of the fraility of statistics as a basis for making rational economic and other policy decisions by governments.to improve investment and other decisions. Shame on the World Bank and IMF for the poor decisions they have imposed on African countries over the past 30 years. Structural adjustment should be imposed on them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars concise, clear position. very informativ and useful., 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Poor Numbers: How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) (Paperback)
for anyone interested in the topics, this is a must read. of course, you don't have to agree with everything he says to appreciate a well-informed opinion.
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