Monday, April 02, 2007

Namibia is no longer number one!

Namibia is no longer number on on the Gini Coefficient list as this recent blog post from "Namibia Notes" reports:

Namibia’s Gini Coefficient

Namibia has lost a world title, one that was good to loose. From 1994 through 2006, Namibia had the highest, at 0.7, Gini Coefficient in the world. This is a measure of income inequality in a society with 1.0 meaning that one person has all the wealth and everyone else has nothing. Conversely, 0.0 means that everyone has the same wealth. So, having a high Gini coefficient is bad. According to the recently released National Household Income and Expenditure Survey, our Gini Coefficient stands at 0.6. A 10 point reduction over ten years is good. But, before we get lost in self congratulation, let’s look at this accomplishment.

To start, the first measure took place in 1993/94, three years after Independence. The high level of inequality was expected. After all, we had just emerged from forty plus years of apartheid, and a century or so of colonial rule. Both systems (actually one could argue that apartheid was just colonialism taken to its extremes — though this discussion is for another time) had as a central tenet the creation of a large majority of poor ruled over by a tiny group of very rich. Under apartheid, skin color determined into which group one was placed. Three years is woefully insufficient to undo decades of inequality. Ten years, however, provides us with a reasonable benchmark. After all, as life teaches us, inheriting a bad situation is nothing to be ashamed of — it happens all the time. The important thing is what you do with that situation.

After a decade we have made progress on a number of fronts. Economic growth has been steady, more people are benefiting from that growth, levels of poverty have gone down. A relevant question at this time is, “Where do we stand now?” Namibia has passed Lesotho, Botswana, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic. We are now in the neighborhood of Swaziland, Bolivia and Haiti. Our long term development outline, Vision 2030, clearly does not wish that we linger too long in this new place. The Vision sees us reaching status beyond the developing world with some very strict, some would say difficult, targets to reach in terms of education, employment and wealth creation. The next twenty-three years will see both progress towards and setbacks to achieving the Vision. For just as a Gini Coefficient can go down, it can also make the return trip back up. Clearly this is not a time to rest on our laurels.

Click here for old information about the Gini Coefficient on Wiki. The arrows at the top of each column enable you to sort each column. Click the "UN Gini index" Or the "CIA Gini index" twice to sort from worst to first.

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