oa Africa Insight - Comparative standards of living in African states

Volume 17, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The difficulties inherent in the exercise of drawing comparisons between states with widely differing characteristics lie at the heart of much of the debate about contemporary Africa. This article attempts to circumvent some of these problems by using three indicators to compare living conditions in, and the economic performance of, various African states. These indicators are the physical quality of life index (PQLI), the per capita income level and the growth rate in per capita income. They are seen as complementary and are used as a convenient means of determining standards of living. The per capita income level also provides an indication of the economic resources available to secure a certain standard of living. The growth rate of per capita income therefore indicates the success of a country in increasing its economic resources in order to be able to improve the standard of living of its inhabitants. The data is then used to make a number of topical comparisons.

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