This policy note will focus on the poverty trends in Nigeria using the National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) 2004 and Harmonized Nigeria Living Standard Survey (HNLSS) 2010 only. In the last decade, Nigeria has enjoyed a stable and sustained growth in a context of responsible macroeconomic management, economic stability, democracy, and reform. Nonetheless, results from household surveys conducted during the same period seem to be at odd with this particularly positive growth story: poverty declined only by two percentage points between 2004 and 2010. Poverty levels may be lower and poverty reduction faster than the official estimates suggest. Simulations and sensitivity check confirm this hypothesis and call for additional work to consolidate poverty analysis in Nigeria. An important step in this direction is increasing the collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics regarding data collection and data management. There are, however, several results from this policy note that seems to stand on solid ground. First, the historical disparities between the North and the South (more specifically South-West) appear to have remained unchanged. Second, inequality explains part of the limited poverty reduction. Third, there is evidence of structural changes in the economy. Labor absorption provides interesting insights. Larger fractions of the working age population have moved out of agriculture and joined the self-employed sector. To make faster progress in poverty reduction, Nigeria needs a game changing strategy if substantial progress has to be made in meeting the global goals of reducing extreme poverty to three percent in 2030.
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