The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.

Morten Jerven

Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University & Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Morten Jerven is an economic historian, with a PhD from the London School of Economics, and has since 2009 been working at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada

Morten Jerven


Professor Jerven’s doctoral research involved in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and his work on the post-colonial economic performance of these countries has been published in a range of journal papers. The work is particularly innovative in investigating the construction of African growth data and showing how data quality issues are critical for the evaluation of economic performance. In spring 2010 Jerven visited Ghana and Nigeria and in the fall the same year he went to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, where he followed up on his doctoral research and conducted interviews at the statistical offices.

This work has resulted in three books: Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It, published by Cornell University Press. Poor Numbers has been reviewed by Financial Times and Bill Gates among others, received favorable mention in Lancet and Nature and generated discussions Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Jeune Afrique as well as eliciting direct response from the African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and other central stake holders such as the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa.

The second book: Economic Growth and Measurement Reconsidered in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, 1965-1995, Oxford University Press, January 1, 2014. How do we measure African economic performance? This volume studies how growth is measured in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and challenges commonly held beliefs of African economic performance.

The third book: Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong, Zed Books, May 15, 2015. Not so long ago, Africa was being described as the hopeless continent. Recently, though, talk has turned to Africa rising, with enthusiastic voices exclaiming the potential for economic growth across many of its countries. What, then, is the truth behind Africa’s growth, or lack of it?

Currently, Morten is working on linking the literature and databases on post-colonial economic development with the work on the economic history of colonial Africa. This work is supported by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada under the title: ‘African states and development: a historical perspective on state legitimacy and development capacity, 1890-2010’.


No publications were found


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    To improve information sharing and promote networking, CTA, the DG DEVCO from the European Commission, the ACP Secretariat, Concord organise bimonthly briefings on key issues and challenges for rural development in the context of EU/ACP cooperation. The Briefing on 18th February 2015 will focus on the potential the data revolution can bring to the agri-food sector of A…