Mauritania - Poverty and wealth



Mauritania ranks among the least developed countries in the world with widespread chronic poverty among the nomadic herders, subsistence farmers, and the unemployed urban masses. Poverty is manifested not only in low income but also in limited access to basic services such as safe water, health care, and education. In 1990, it was estimated that 57 percent of the population lived below the poverty line and the country's Gini index (measuring economic equality, with 0 standing for perfect equality and 100 for perfect inequality) was close to 39, lower than the one in the United States but higher than in Europe. With the lowest 10 percent of earners responsible for 0.7 percent of the consumption and the highest 10 percent for 30.4 percent in 1988, Mauritania is still more equal than many of its African neighbors. The inflation rate was 9.8 percent in 1998. The country is heavily dependent on foreign aid and poverty reduction programs while corruption creates some large illicit fortunes. Economic inequality adds to interethnic and intertribal tension to

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Mauritania 549 557 511 438 478
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Morocco 956 1,114 1,173 1,310 1,388
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Mauritania
Lowest 10% 2.3
Lowest 20% 6.2
Second 20% 10.8
Third 20% 15.4
Fourth 20% 22.0
Highest 20% 45.6
Highest 10% 29.9
Survey year: 1995
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

produce a very low level of human development, according to United Nations sources.

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