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Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies co-hosted a Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)* on "Internal Migration and Poverty Reduction in Tanzania: Evidence from a Long-Term Tracking Survey" featuring Kathleen Beegle, Senior Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank. Karen Macours, Assistant Professor of International Economics, Johns Hopkins University served as the discussant.
ABSTRACT: Finding routes out of poverty remains a key issue for households and policy makers alike. Most long-term evidence from across the world suggests that poverty reduction tends to be correlated with intergenerational mobility out of rural areas and agriculture into more urban non-agricultural settings. Physical and economic mobility then go hand in hand. This paper uses unique evidence from the Kagera region in Tanzania on poverty and wealth dynamics. Building on a relatively large and detailed panel data survey conducted in 1991-94, we traced, in 2004, individuals ever interviewed in the baseline waves. Detailed data on these individuals and their current households were collected, allowing a detailed study of the changes in wealth and poverty over time for these individuals. The average consumption change of individuals found outside their baseline village was more than 4 times higher than that of individuals found within the same village. For those who stayed in the village we see basic needs poverty rates drop by about 4 percentage points over 13 years, while for those who moved elsewhere within the region we see basic needs poverty rates drop by about 12 percentage points, and for those who moved out of the region drop by 23 percentage points. Had we only focused on those individuals still residing in the baseline village we would have concluded that average consumption went up by a bit under $30 and poverty rates declined with 4 percentage points. In other words, had we not interviewed people who moved out of the village--a practice found in many panel surveys--then we would have seriously underestimated the extent to which poverty has gone down over the past 13 years in the Kagera Region. Aside from this, we would have omitted from our sample that part of the population with the highest information content on the reasons for moving out of poverty.
*The Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.