There are common narratives about economic growth in Ethiopia. We analyze four common narratives, namely, that (1) the economy is transforming from agriculture to industry, (2) that national economic growth has been rapid and sustained, (3) that Ethiopia’s economy is largely agricultural, and (4) that there is a looming debt crisis, largely due to lending from China. In many instances, the justification for these narratives is based upon single years or specific data points. We examine these narratives over the long term, to assess if they are supported by available macroeconomic data. In doing so, we encountered significant issues with data quality and consistency. This article presents the available datasets from 1999 to 2017 and concludes that the commonly made claims about the Ethiopian economy are sometimes accurate, sometimes incomplete, and other times inaccurate. We call for greater attention to primary data, and primary datasets, as opposed to relying upon secondary summaries, single years, or specific data points to make generalized claims.

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Keywords Debt, Economy, Ethiopia, Export, Growth, Import, Trade
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Journal Economies
Cochrane, L, & Bekele, Y.W. (Yeshtila W.). (2018). Contextualizing narratives of economic growth and navigating problematic data: Economic trends in Ethiopia (1999–2017). Economies, 6(4). doi:10.3390/economies6040064