Contributor profile

Morten Jerven

Professor Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Lund University


Morten Jerven has published widely on African economic development, and particularly on patterns of economic growth and on economic development statistics. His books are based on research in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. Jerven is an economic historian, with a PhD from the London School of Economics. In 2009 I started as assistant professor at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, where I was tenured in 2013. In 2015 he was appointed at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, where he has been professor in development studies there since 2016. He also works as Guest Professor of Economic History at Lund University. His doctoral research involved in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and his work on the post-colonial economic performance of these countries has been published in a range of journal papers. In 2013 he published Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It, which is published by Cornell University Press. His second book, Economic Growth and Measurement Reconsidered in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, 1965-1995, was published by Oxford University Press, and is a revised version of my doctoral thesis. His third book – Africa. Why Economists Get it Wrong – was published in 2015. He currently works on linking studies on post-colonial economic development with the economic history of colonial Africa. The research projects is focusing on the African growth, population and tax data where the two related aims are to assess its quality and to construct a reliable basis to evaluate and interpret long term economic change in African economies. The project is called: ‘Capacity to Count and Collect: a historical perspective on state legitimacy and development capacity in Africa, 1890-2010’ and it is supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council.

Content by Morten

Case studies Ethics
Hard data and soft statistics: a guide to critical reporting

It is generally believed that numbers are hard and judgements are soft. But metrics and indices are much softer than we would like to think. With case studies from Africa Check, Morten Jerven covers the basics of cross examining statistics.