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date: 28 October 2020

The Problems of Economic Data in Africa 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics
Morten JervenMorten Jerven

One of the pioneers in the study of economic development, Dudley Seers (1952–1953, p. 160), was considerably pessimistic about the rewards of instituting national accounting for the purpose of international comparisons of income and economic development. “In the hands of authorities, such international comparisons may yield correlations which throw light on the circumstances of economic progress, and they tell us something about relative inefficiencies and standards of living, but they are very widely abused. Do they not on the whole mislead more than they instruct, causing a net reduction in human knowledge?” The knowledge of development gained through numbers is much more limited than their frequent use would indicate. Arguably, many of the econometric models in use for testing hypothesis are much more sophisticated than the quality of the data would justify (... ...

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