Morten Jerven: Poor numbers: how we are misled by African development statistics 

How much do we really know about African economies? How is real GDP measured by the national statistical offices of African countries? Is African development policy based on fact or fiction?

On 7 May 2013 economic historian Morten Jerven presented his influential recent book Poor Numbers: How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it at the Africa Talks of the University of Birmingham. Grounded in new empirical research carried out by Jerven, the book authoritatively questions the validity of the main statistical indicators of the economic performance of African countries. It shows that a lot of what we think we know about African economies is best understood as ‘stories of statistical fiction’.

In this podcast, Jerven describes how he reached the conclusions advanced in his book and what these conclusions imply for policy. 


The Africa Talks are hosted by the Department of African Studies and Anthropology of the University of Birmingham.