The Social Impact of Adjustment in Africa

  • Alessandro Pio


During the 1980s, 37 out of the 45 countries belonging to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) underwent at least one (and sometimes as many as 15) adjustment programmes (Jespersen, 1992; World Bank, 1989a). In spite of this remarkable pool of real world experience, the assessment of the social and economic impact of these programmes is still the subject of considerable debate. The lack of consensus in the scientific and policy-making communities can be attributed to one ideological and two methodological problems. The ideological problem stems from the fact that some analysts already ‘know’ that adjustment is either good or bad for a country, and simply set out to prove their point by selectively choosing and interpreting evidence. The two methodological problems are, in turn, more difficult to deal with, even for an observer who starts out without preconceptions. They are the result of (i) the impossibility of holding ‘everything else equal’ during the implementation of adjustment programmes and (ii) the still unsatisfactory state of the art of methodology for such analysis.


Social Impact Social Indicator Rural Poor Adjustment Programme Social Expenditure 
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© UNICEF 1994

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  • Alessandro Pio

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