Comparability of GDP Estimates in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Effect of Revisions in Sources and Methods Since Structural Adjustment, Review of Income and Wealth. Early view. Article first published online: 6 DEC 2012

Morten Jerven

Review of Income and Wealth 59, S16-S36, 2013

The unreliability of African income estimates was highlighted when Ghana announced that GDP estimates were revised upwards by 60.3 percent in November 2010. Similar revisions are to be expected in other countries. Many statistical offices are currently using outdated base years. It is argued that with the current uneven application of methods and poor availability of data, any ranking of countries according to GDP levels is misleading. The paper emphasizes the challenges for “data users” in light of these revisions. GDP data are disseminated through international organizations, but without any detailed data descriptions. It is argued that many statistical offices in Sub-Saharan Africa struggled to recover from the structural adjustment period, and the offices have not had the capacity to handle other challenges such as providing data to monitor the Millennium Development Goals. Currently, neither data users nor data producers are getting the assistance they need.

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