If the poverty line was set at $3/day we would have seen virtually no numerical decline in number of poor worldwide between 1990 and 2010

January 15, 2015



Much of the "success" against poverty depends on repeated lowering of the int'l poverty line (IPL). By 2010, we're supposed to have achieved a 43.6% reduction in the percentage of poor people in the developing world, and the WB reports that in fact we achieved 52.1%.But if you set the IPL at $1.815 rather than $1.25 in 2005 int'l dollars, you find that poverty declined only 40.1%. Why $1.815? Because that's the rough equivalent of $1 in 1985 int'l dollars, the original formulation of MDG1. Of course, with rising average incomes in the world the IPL should have been RAISED, perhaps to $3 in 2005 int'l dollars. Had this been done, we'd be looking at a measly 25.4% decline in the poverty rate in the developing world -- and no decrease in the number of poor (3378 million in 1990 and 3345 million in 2010). See http://iresearch.worldbank.org/PovcalNet/index.htm?1[[FM


Takeway: If you set the poverty line at $3/day to take into account rising incomes and what most people would think of as pretty extreme, there has been virtually no decrease in the number of hungry people between 1990 and 2010.]]The one stat you should cite is that in the 1988-2008 period the poorest 30% of world population saw their share of global household income DECLINE from 1.52 to 1.25 percent -- despite all the supposed heavy lifting of people out of poverty. The poor would have ended this period 21 percent better off if they had merely been allowed to participate proportionally in global economic growth.


Thomas Pogge email to Frances Moore Lappe, September 29, 2013. Pogge is a professor at Yale and author of many books on world poverty.
See also: http://iresearch.worldbank.org/PovcalNet/index.htm?1
[verified 4/15/14]

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