Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Markets in Ethiopia

Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Markets in Ethiopia

Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Markets in Ethiopia

Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Markets in Ethiopia


Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of just above US$100. With such a low average income, poverty is of course widespread, so understanding the causes of poverty is of utmost importance, but until recently very little household-data has been available. This study deals with many aspects of poverty and income-distribution in Ethiopia, providing a wealth of information on household-income and its determinants. The book is of interest both to academics working on poverty analysis and to policy makers and donors collaborating with Ethiopia.


In this book, the authors exploit data sets unique to Africa to investigate different aspects of poverty and inequality in Ethiopia during a period of economic reform. It is the first attempt at comprehensively looking at poverty, its determinants as well as changes over time for Ethiopia. Apart from its input to the stock of knowledge on Ethiopia, the book also contributes to a broader understanding of the links between poverty and development in Africa.

The work reported in this book started in the early 1990s, when the Department of Economics at Addis Ababa University jointly with the Department of Economics at Göteborg University (Sweden), the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) at Oxford University, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) agreed to undertake a series of urban and rural household surveys in Ethiopia. These were started in 1994 and several rounds of interviews have followed. These series of urban and rural surveys have already generated a wealth of information that has significantly improved empirical research on Ethiopia.

In the late 1990s, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) based in Nairobi initiated a poverty project covering a dozen African countries. Within this project a twinning arrangement was set up between Addis Ababa and Göteborg universities, and the bulk of the work reported in this book derives from that work. However, parts of the work have been funded by other sources, such as Oxford University, the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC), and USAID through Michigan State University. We gratefully acknowledge the support received from all these sources.

We have received a lot of help and encouragement during the work on this study. We would first like to thank the coordinators of AERC's poverty project, Erik Thorbecke, Ali Ali, and Germanu Mwabu, for their guidance and support. We have also benefited a lot from the help received from AERC research directors Ibrahim Elbadawi, Augustin Fosu, and Dominique Njinkeu. Comments received at various seminars and workshops arranged by the AERC were very useful.

The research reported in this volume would not have been possible without the data gathered in the series of urban and rural surveys. Hence, our thanks go to all survey coordinators, supervisors, enumerators and respondents in urban and rural areas whose names are too many to mention.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge the monumental contribution of Mekonnen Taddesse towards the surveys as well as his pioneering role in poverty analysis among Ethiopians – particularly in the analysis of urban poverty. He was the chairman of the Economics Department at Addis Ababa University during . . .

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