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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

William Easterly has a Quiz on Africa in the LA Times

Let's begin with those rampaging Four Horsemen. Do they really explain Africa today? What percentage of the African population would you say dies in war every year? What share of male children, age 10 to 17, are child soldiers? How many Africans are afflicted by famine or died of AIDS last year or are living as refugees?

Via Mark Thoma

1) War: I would guess from 0.02% to 0.05%. The question is hard as it is difficult to decide the scale at which bandit violence becomes guerrilla warfare.

2) Child soldiers: I'd say 0.5%

3) Famine ???: I am not aware of a current famine in Africa as opposed to malnutrition. Also it is very hard to decide whether deaths are famine or war as most war deaths in Africa are due to increased famine malnutrition and disease and current near famines are associated with wars.

4) AIDS I think around 2 million*

5) Refugees: I think around 400,000.

OK scoring

"In each case, the answer is one-half of 1% of the population or less. In some cases it's much less"

Whaaat ?!? of course. Yet some of the questions asked for absolute numbers not percents. And less than one half of one percent dying each year from one disease is not a low death rate.

What fraction of people in the USA die of cancer each year ? I think around 0.2% (a guess but right) so who cares, no problem.

Serious Scoring

population around 840 million.

War: "annual war deaths have averaged 1 out of every 10,800 Africans for the last four decades." My guess is far lower, but I was thinking of last year not averaging over four decades. Africa is relatively nearly at peace compared to the average year. I'd say 2007 is about median bloody, but the average year includes one 40th of the Rwandan genocide, the Nigerian civil war and 1 40th of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Child soldiers 120,000/140,000,000 = 0.1% the denominator is a rough estimate of mine.
Famine USAID agrees no current famine in Africa at the moment
Aids 1.6 million

Refugees Waayy off 1.8 million from just 4 countries.

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