According to macroeconomic data, Cameroon recovered economic growth during the period between 1996 and 2001 following the devaluation of the CFA franc relative to the French franc which took place in January 1994. However, there is cause for concern across the country about the question as to whether the economic growth recorded in official statistics has trickled down to the various strata of society to improve the living conditions of the population, especially those of the poor. This paper therefore aims to address this issue by examining the extent, distribution, as well as the dynamics of poverty in Cameroon during the post-devaluation period between 1996 and 2001. The analysis of poverty uses the cost of basic needs (CBN) method to estimate poverty lines, and the FGT-class of poverty indexes developed by Foster, Greer, and Thorbecke (1984) to determine the incidence, intensity, and severity of poverty in the country. Income inequality is captured with the Gini index, and two generalized entropy measures. Moreover, the study decomposes changes in poverty into growth and redistribution components by using both the Shorrocks (1999) method (based on Shapley’s value) of dynamic poverty decomposition and the standard Datt and Ravallion (1992) approach for breaking down poverty. The data used in the study is drawn from the ECAM I and ECAMII household surveys conducted respectively in 1996 and 2001 by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) over the whole national territory. In general, the results of the study show that, while poverty declined owing to economic recovery, notably in the urban areas, inequality in contrast increased between 1996 and 2001. However, the urban areas recorded a reduction in inequality whereas the opposite occurred in the rural areas. Both the Shorrocks and Datt-Ravallion methods provide almost identical results showing that growth was instrumental in the reduction of poverty during the study period. Finally, these results are used to make policy recommendations aiming at poverty relief in Cameroon.
Key words: Poverty, growth, inequality, Cameroon, household surveys data.
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