Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics” as Want to Read:
Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  13 reviews
One of the most urgent challenges in African economic development is to devise a strategy for improving statistical capacity. Reliable statistics, including estimates of economic growth rates and per-capita income, are basic to the operation of governments in developing countries and vital to nongovernmental organizations and other entities that provide financial aid to th ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Cornell University Press (first published February 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Poor Numbers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Poor Numbers

Community Reviews

Showing 1-57
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  131 ratings  ·  13 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics
Dylan Groves
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
really interesting topic, not-so-great execution. value of book vs article summary is very small.

three takeaways:

1 - african growth statistics stink. They under-report the informal sector, rely on faulty population and baseline year estimates, and are often politically motivated. Many countries may be due to revise GDP estimates upwards by 50% or more when they correct these in the coming years.

2 - international institutions (WB and IMF) dont help the problem - theyre emphasis on generating ag
...more
Ailema
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
An important response to today's data obsession. Jerven calls attention to certain organisations' tendency to rank countries on all sorts of measures and figures, such as GDP, without taking a moment to stop and look at whether the estimates are worth the paper they are written on. "Datasets are like guns: if left lying around, someone will use them", he observes.

Moreover, he points out why it is a problem that these figures aren't accurate. If we don't know what a country's population is, how c
...more
Lucy
Dec 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Had some solid points and was well researched but droned on. The arguments could've been conveyed in half the number of pages. It also could have been more clearly written but to be fair, it was most likely written for those in the field of development economics and not the general populace.
...more
LiB
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is important and necessary, and I am absolutely sure it will be essential reading for NGOs, activists, development experts and academics who work in the field of African development. I hope African statisticians are able to use it to claw in more support and funding for their clearly grossly underappreciated work.

For a lay reader though, well, there is only so many times an author can say “the World Bank makes shit up”. Especially when they never directly says it because they are very
...more
Hannah Patnaik
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very good and important message on the problems with data collection and analysis in Africa. However, as others have mentioned, it was unnecessarily repetitive.
Ahrrr Kayyy
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting read, but the Private Sector does possess data - so not as bad a situation as he makes out
Jamie
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Basic premise:
• “Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts” Einstein – I always have liked this quote.
• African statistics are of dubious quality, it is often hard to validate sources. The book focuses on the estimation of national accounts and GDP statistics, which is hard for any country to do (due to assumptions needed on income, population, etc.), but much harder for national statistics offices across Africa without the necessary resources, g
...more
Jorge
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read with useful lessons for policymakers

I have enjoyed this book, despite being quite specific (and therefore, unlikely to be interesting to the general reader). It identifies the problem with African statistics in a very clear and didactic manner and offers relevant and "easy-to-apply" recommendations for policymakers. It has certainly helped me look at country data in a totally different way.
...more
Coney Islander
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Important book, and a great introduction to some of the core challenges of producing and using data for better development policy and practice, with a focus on GDP. Unfortunately, it reads like an unedited final draft and the Kindle edition contains various syntax and grammar errors. That said, it does not take away from the content. Highlights are the brief history of statistical services in sub-Saharan Africa and the analysis of current challenges faced by national statistics offices.
Phil Spencer
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed the main idea of this book. I saw the author speak about the book before reading it, so I was already familiar with the core concepts. I was hoping the book were digger deeper than it did into these examples. Overall, an important main idea for development practitioners and economists to be aware of.
Karmen
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Must read for users of African data! A good reminder to be cautious when creating new 'knowledge'. I would caution though that while some national statistical offices in Africa are in shambles, others are quite good and getting better. And non official data (private sector) needs to be better acknowledged, interrogated and utilized. ...more
Warren
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ipe, africa
This is a brilliant read and should be on every African scholars reading list. There are one or two proofreading issues along the way, but these don't detract from the overall quality of the book and its insights. ...more
Mills College Library
338.967 J57 2013
Bob
rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2017
Stephan
rated it liked it
Dec 04, 2017
Elena Cofaru
rated it liked it
Apr 16, 2014
Will Smith
rated it really liked it
Dec 11, 2013
Mansi
rated it liked it
Jan 15, 2017
Matthew Benson
rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2018
Wim
rated it really liked it
Jul 19, 2018
Kevin Kuruc
rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2018
Ben Grice
rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2018
Lloyd O
rated it it was amazing
Jun 03, 2015
Benoît Rivard
rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2015
Aaron Stanley
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2018
Samantha
rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2014
Fatih Çetin
rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2017
Colton Brydges
rated it it was amazing
Aug 17, 2017
Eric Ray Brooks
rated it liked it
Mar 30, 2018
Natalie Hall
marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2012
Josephine Luu
marked it as to-read
Jan 07, 2013
Paul
marked it as to-read
Jan 08, 2013
Sasha
added it
Jan 16, 2013
Ashley Mckenzie
marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2013
Kevin
added it
Feb 02, 2013
Emily
added it
Mar 02, 2013
Ellie
marked it as to-read
Mar 21, 2013
Sean Fitzpatrick
marked it as to-read
Mar 24, 2013
James
marked it as to-read
Apr 07, 2013
Sameea Hassim
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2013
Austin
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2013
Anthony
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2013
Shawn
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2013
Raven
marked it as to-read
May 08, 2013
Krishnan Srinivasan
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2013
Amit
added it
May 10, 2013
John Pachmayr
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2013
Mohamed Shams
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2013
Robert
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2013
Abhishek Tyagi
marked it as to-read
May 17, 2013
Laura
added it
May 21, 2013
Mark Chapman
marked it as to-read
May 26, 2013
Julio Lavalle
marked it as to-read
Jun 05, 2013
Somjen Frazer
marked it as to-read
Jun 14, 2013
Erick
marked it as to-read
Jun 23, 2013
Diane Henry
marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dictatorland: The Men Who Stole Africa
  • The United Nations: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties
  • World Order
  • Chapter One: You have the power to change stuff
  • Impressions of Theophrastus Such
  • Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary
  • Desires and Dreams and Powers
  • The Lorax
  • Rubinrot (Edelstein-Trilogie, #1)
  • The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class
  • Earwig and the Witch
  • Spindle's End
  • Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
  • Oh, the Places You'll Go!
  • Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and its Human Fallout
  • The Mythic Dream
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Listen up, because our colleagues here at Goodreads have some excellent audiobook recommendations for you! Of course, the books they've...
38 likes · 23 comments
“data. Paul Collier is one of the few who has ventured a recent guess. He recently asked: “Is this dismal performance just an artifact of the data?” 0 likes
“they have not being able to reach a consensus about how “progress” is best calculated or defined. The result is not an objective measure of progress but rather an expression of development priorities as determined by changes in the political economy and academic trends.” 0 likes
More quotes…