The paper compares measures of socio-economic inequality between population groups in Ghana and Nigeria using nationally representative survey data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). In particular, the paper focuses attention on the politically salient north-south divide. Different dimensions of inequality such as education, employment, household wealth and child mortality as well as alternative group markers like ethnicity, religion, and region of residence are considered over time.
The general conclusion is that in both countries the socio-economic divide between the ’north’ and the ’south’, however defined, remains very deep despite the efforts by postcolonial administrations to redress the gap. In terms of cross-country comparisons, the greater degree of overlap between regional and cultural identities in Nigeria, coupled with a much more even demographic split between northern and southern regions than in Ghana, is likely to make the north-south divide particularly visible to people and to their political elites in the north. Furthermore, whereas in Ghana inequalities have, with very few exceptions, remained stable over the decade 1993-2003, in Nigeria changes in group inequalities over time have been more dramatic, particularly in women’s educational attainment and child mortality rates (CMR).
CRISE Working Paper No. 72, 24 pp.