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poverty line

Global poverty today, the 1908 winter in St. Petersburg, and ‘controversy bias’

Francisco Ferreira's picture

Robert Allen’s recent AER paper on “Absolute Poverty: When Necessity Displaces Desire” is a fascinating read, on many levels. The paper uses linear programming (LP) to compute (four variants of) least-cost diets for twenty countries, using prices from the International Comparisons Project (ICP) microdata. To the resulting least-cost food budgets, estimates of non-food costs covering housing, fuel, lighting, clothing and soap are added, generating “basic need poverty lines” (BNPL) for each country.

Tony Atkinson (1944 – 2017) and the measurement of global poverty

Francisco Ferreira's picture

Sir Anthony Atkinson, who was Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Fellow of Nuffield College at Oxford, passed away on New Year’s Day, at the age of 72. Tony was a highly distinguished economist: He was a Fellow of the British Academy and a past president of the Econometric Society, the European Economic Association, the International Economic Association and the Royal Economic Society.  He was also an exceedingly decent, kind and generous man.

Although his contributions to economics are wide-ranging, his main field was Public Economics. He was an editor of the Journal of Public Economics for 25 years, and his textbook “Lectures on Public Economics”, co-authored with Joe Stiglitz in 1980, remains a key reference for graduate students to this day. Within the broad field of public economics, Tony published path-breaking work on the measurement, causes and consequences of poverty and inequality – from his early work on Lorenz dominance in 1970, all the way to his more recent joint work with Piketty, Saez and others on the study of top incomes. Over his 50-year academic career, he taught, supervised and examined a large number of PhD students, some of whom came to work at the World Bank at some point in their careers.

The poverty line’s battle lines

Kaushik Basu's picture

For a long time, as a college professor and then as the chief economic adviser to the Indian government, I was a happy user of the World Bank’s data on global poverty, tracking trends and analyzing cross-country patterns. I seldom paused to think about how those numbers were computed. Then, three years ago, I joined the World Bank as its Chief Economist. It was like a customer, happily ordering dinner in a favorite restaurant, suddenly being asked to go into the kitchen and prepare the meal.

How We Measure Poverty in Vietnam

Linh Hoang Vu's picture



What does it mean to be poor in Vietnam? When I grew up in Hanoi in the late 80s, poverty was all around. Most of the population then was living under the international poverty line ($1.25 per day). Because there were no living standard surveys to measure poverty, there was no clear indication of what it meant to be poor. A rich person at that time was someone with either a motorbike or a television set, while a poor one was a street beggar or someone who did not have enough rice to eat.  In the earliest survey conducted in 1992 and 1993, about 64% of the population was poor by the international poverty line. Twenty years later, less than 3% were considered poor by the same standard while hunger was successfully eradicated.