Surveys conducted from 2007 through 2010 by The Gallup Organization have found that Sub-Saharan Africans perceive their living conditions to have deteriorated considerably in the last few years. In 2007 those who said they were “finding it very difficult” to live on their present household income made up a median of 22% of participants across all countries surveyed — this number rose to 36% in 2010. “The median of 16% who reported ‘getting by on present income’ in 2010 is nearly half of what it was in 2007.” This is happening even as GDP growth rates across much of the subcontinent have remained relatively high through the global economic downturn.
Participants were asked to chose 1 of the 4 options as an answer to the following question:
Which one of these phrases comes closest to your own feelings about your household’s income these days?
| Living comfortably on present income
| Getting by on present income
| Finding it difficult on present income
| Finding it very difficult on present income
Ghanaians perceived some of the worst reported deterioration in living standards among the countries surveyed. The table below brings together the data from Ghana.
|Living comfortably on present income||Getting by on present income||Finding it difficult on present income||Finding it very difficult on present income|
Above data in graph form:
From 1 in 10 people in 2007, Ghanaians who reported “finding it very difficult” rose to one-third of participants in 2010. Those who reported “living comfortably” fell from 1 in 5 in 2007 to only 1 in 20 in 2010.
Of course, the general responsibility for the decline in living standards lies with the usual suspects: the recent global economic downturn caused by the US housing bubble, the 2003-2008 oil price hikes, and the 2007-2008 food crisis.
But why have Ghanaians fared worse than most of the rest? What’s special about Ghana that perhaps makes it comparatively more susceptible to external shocks? Is it possible that Ghana suffered from internal shocks in the last few years as well? Or could it just be that since in comparison to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, Ghanaians started off in 2007 thinking they were doing alright, and now that there’s a pinch they just feel a lot worse about it than most others?
I would go into answering the above questions myself (and I might still do so at a later time), but I’m told I have to keep my posts short because people on the internet have short attention spans. And also, I’ve been told that I have to try to encourage discussion on my blog. So discuss, please.