Development indicators at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 1980-1990: Statistical visions in the era of structural adjustment

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This article reconstructs the discourse built by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on socio-economic indicators in the first decade of structural adjustment. While in the early 1980s such indicators were envisaged as a statistical language to translate the alternative ideas of the Lagos Plan of Action into an operational reality, over the course of the decade they were increasingly seen as tools to evaluate the human and social costs of the policies imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This shift in emphasis informs a reflection on the "governance of indicators", problematizing the relationship between development visions and quantification, and the dynamics which prevented the ECA's vision from shaping African statistics in the way that was intended.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-172
Number of pages24
JournalHistoire et Mesure
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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