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Inequality in Mozambique probably worse than previously thought, study finds

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Mozambique may have significantly underestimated the level of economic inequality in the country, according to a new working paper from the United Nations University (UNU).

The paper found that underreporting of income in household surveys has likely led the government to misstate both the duration and extent of Mozambique’s recent spike in inequality.

Mozambique’s National Directorate of Studies and Policy Analysis (DNEAP) makes periodic assessments of poverty in the country. Among other indicators, its looks at national levels of wealth inequality. The last two reports suggest that inequality began to increase rapidly in 2008/9 and continued to rise in 2014/15.

But the UNU paper has found new evidence suggesting that “inequality in Mozambique is underestimated and that a trend of increasing inequality began in 2002/03 rather than 2008/09 as the official numbers suggest.” The DNEAP numbers, the paper found, are likely to have been skewed by richer Mozambicans underreporting their income in household surveys.

The report accounted for the systematic underreporting by estimating income based on their reported consumption in certain categories. Using this method, it found that Mozambique’s reported Gini coefficient – a common measure for inequality – was underestimated by almost 10% in 2002/3 by DNEAP, almost 15% in 2008/9, and 4% in 2014/15.

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