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It’s well known that Nigeria’s richest and poorest people are worlds apart. But what about the typical, middle-income person? How does Nigeria’s growth, wealth and poverty affect them? Until earlier this month, it was very hard to access data on mid-income groups in most countries. Now, for the first time, the US think-tank Center for Global Development (CGD) has published figures on the middle (median) incomes of almost all countries.
It turns out that the middle earner in Nigeria takes home just US$1.80 each day — below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day. The data also shows that in several countries with a similar GDP (gross domestic product) per capita to Nigeria, the middle earner has a more comfortable living: more than US$7 in Tonga and US$9 in Bolivia, for example. Meanwhile, in Nigeria’s northern neighbour Niger — six times poorer as a country per capita — the middle earner lives on US$1.90 per day.
It’s incredible that this data wasn’t published before. We knew Nigeria had an inequality problem, but until now discussions have been steered by per capita (mean) incomes — and these are heavily skewed by the incomes of the mega-rich.