This review seeks to examine the dimensions of poverty in general and chronic poverty in particular in West African countries. In a number of West African countries nationally representative survey data has only recently become available. The preparation of poverty reduction strategy papers by several countries in the sub-region as part of the HIPC initiative has created an incentive for the collection of nationally representative data on living conditions. Thus several countries have nationally representative household surveys. Very few, however have large longitudinal or panel data sets on living standards. Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire appear to be the only exceptions in the sub-region. An investigation into the incidence and causes of chronic poverty and the profile of the chronic poor ideally requires a longitudinal or panel data set. In recent years researchers have developed methodologies to investigate the incidence of chronic and transient poverty using cross-sectional data (Chaudhuri 2002, Gibson 2000). Unfortunately, these data sets do not provide information to conduct an analysis of the determinants of movements in and out of poverty. However, these methodologies are an important first step in drawing policy makers' attention to the phenomenon of chronic poverty.
Investigating Chronic Poverty in West Africa, CPRC Working Paper No. 28, Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN 1-904049-27-3, 43 pp.