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The Extent, Distribution, and Trend of Global Income Poverty

Sanjay Reddy, Thomas Pogge

The estimates of the extent, distribution and trend of global income poverty provided in the World Bank's World Development Reports for 1990 and 2000/01 are neither meaningful nor reliable. The Bank uses an arbitrary international poverty line unrelated to any clear conception of what poverty is. It employs a misleading and inaccurate measure of purchasing power equivalence that vitiates international and inter-temporal comparisons of income poverty. It extrapolates incorrectly from limited data and thereby creates an appearance of precision that masks the high probable error of its estimates. The systematic distortion introduced by these three flaws likely leads to a large understatement of the extent of global income poverty and to an incorrect inference that it has declined. A new methodology of global poverty assessment is feasible and necessary.

About the Authors

Sanjay Reddy
Associate Professor of Economics
The New School

Thomas Pogge
Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs
Yale University

Publication Information

Type Network Paper
Program Poverty
Posted 07/01/06
Download 62kb pdf
# Pages 25