Books "Poor Numbers," by Morten Jerven

Published on August 18th, 2013 | by Travis Korte


Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics And What To Do About It

Poor Numbers, by economic historian Morten Jerven, bills itself as the first critical analysis of the landscape of African economic development statistics. Jerven, an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University, argues that flawed, incomplete and improperly collected data in this area has resulted in severely inefficient allocation of aid and development resources from nonprofits and international organizations.

Jerven also critiques some of the metrics which have become the de facto cornerstones of development economics, such as GDP per capita, which he says is less predictive in the poorest countries. The book calls for greater support of national statistics offices across Africa to encourage the production of better data and thereby enable more meaningful analysis.

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About the Author

Travis Korte is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation specializing in data science applications and open data. He has a background in journalism, computer science and statistics. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, he launched the Science vertical of The Huffington Post and served as its Associate Editor, covering a wide range of science and technology topics. He has worked on data science projects with HuffPost and other organizations. Before this, he graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley, having studied critical theory and completed coursework in computer science and economics. His research interests are in computational social science and using data to engage with complex social systems. You can follow him on Twitter @traviskorte.

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