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The Covid-19 Pandemic and the New Poor in Africa: the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

Diop, Samba and Asongu, Simplice (2020): The Covid-19 Pandemic and the New Poor in Africa: the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back. Forthcoming in: Forum for Social Economics

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This study assesses the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic on poverty levels in 50 African countries by employing the PovcalNet computational tool for poverty monitoring. The empirical evidence is based on: (i) Pre Covid-19 macroeconomic projections of October 2019 and revised macroeconomic projections of April 2020 and (ii) three poverty thresholds, notably, US$1.90, US$3.20, and US$5.50 per day for the extreme, middle and higher poverty lines. The following main findings are established. First, the extreme poverty line of US$1.90 per day has increased by US$0.1 per day while the middle poverty line and the higher line have increased by US0.19$ and US0.32$, respectively. Second, the poverty headcount has increased to 35.85% for the US1.90$ poverty line, 57.55% for the US3.20$ per day poverty line and 76.42% for the higher poverty line (US5.5$ per day). Third, the corresponding additional percentage points in poverty headcount ratio are: (i) an increase of 2.09% for the poverty thresholds of US1.90$ per day and US3.2$ per day, corresponding to 28, 140, 345 and 26, 418, 200 million, respectively of the new poor in absolute terms and (ii) a boost of 1.78% for the higher poverty line of US5.5$ per day, corresponding to 19, 062, 643 million of the new poor. Fourth, country-specific tendencies are also provided for more targeted policy implications.

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