The paper examines the pattern of poverty, growth and inequality in Ethiopia in the recent decade. The result shows that growth, to a large extent depends on structural factors such as initial conditions, vagaries of nature, external shocks and peace and stability both in Ethiopia and in the region. Using a rich household panel data, the paper also shows that there is a strong correlation between growth and inequality. In such set up, the effect of implementing a pro-poor growth strategy, compared to allowing the status quo to prevail, can be quite dramatic. On the basis of realistic assumptions, the paper shows that from a baseline in 2000 of a 30 per cent poverty share, over 10 years at growth of 4 per cent per capita, poverty would decline from 44 to 26 per cent for distribution neutral growth (DNG) (i.e. no change in the aggregate income distribution).
In contrast, were the growth increment distributed equally across percentiles (equally distributed gains of growth, EDG), the poverty would decline by over half, to 15 per cent, a difference of almost eleven percentage points. Thus, ‘distribution matters’, even, or especially in a poor country like Ethiopia. On the basis of these results the paper outlines policies that could help to design a sustainable pro-poor growth strategy.