In Tanzania, as in many other developing countries, the conventional wisdom is that economic reforms may have stimulated economic growth, but the benefits of this growth have been uneven, favoring urban households and farmers with good market access. This idea, although quite plausible, has rarely been tested. In this paper, we develop a new approach to measuring trends in poverty and inequality and apply it to Tanzania in order to explore the distributional aspects of economic growth and the relationship between rural poverty and market access. We find that, over the 1990s when significant economic reforms were implemented, the overall rate of poverty fell. Poverty fell the least in Dar es Salaam and the most in small urban areas. The degree of poverty reduction was similar between rural and urban areas, across educational categories, and across income groups, though female-headed households seem to have lost relative to male-headed households. We find that rural poverty is associated with remoteness, but the relationship is surprisingly weak and it varies depending on the definition used. Rural poverty is more closely related to access to regional urban centers than distance to roads or to Dar es Salaam. Although poverty is somewhat higher in more remote rural areas, we find little evidence that remote areas are being "left behind", either in relative or in absolute terms.


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