Counting the poor

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Dec 5 08:30:35 MST 2002

Sanjay G. Reddy and Thomas W. Pogge

Abstract: 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 creates serious and
irreparable difficulties for international and intertemporal 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



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