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Poverty

Measuring the tricky things

Varun Gauri's picture

Along with the Center for Experimental Social Science at Nuffield College at Oxford, eMBeD co-organized a conference called “Measuring the Tricky Things.” The lineup included Susan Fiske presenting a magisterial overview of her decades-long work on the stereotype content model, Armin Falk on his groundbreaking study of time, risk, and social preferences among 80,000 individuals in 65 countries, Karla Hoff on using lab in field experiments to identify the honor ethic among higher caste villagers in North India, Ryan Enos on measuring racial attitudes, Rachel Glennerster on measuring women’s empowerment, Julian Jamison on how and why to use item count techniques to mitigate social desirability bias, Henry Travers on debiasing estimates of wildlife survival, Amandi Mani on assessing the effect of financial worry on cognitive performance with cell phones, and Sheheryar Banuri on using videos to probe the effect of pro-poor bonuses on doctor’s decisions on which patients to see. My eMBeD co-head Renos Vakis assessed the strengths and weaknesses of World Bank surveys on socio-emotional skills. I discussed the reliability and validity of measurements of social norms with respect to women’s labor force participation in Jordan.  

Addressing child malnutrition in Yemen: Muneera's story

Malak Shaher's picture
Muneera (UNICEF)

“We had lost hope,” said Muneera’s father. “As her health deteriorated and her body weakened, we worried that she could not last much longer.” Six months short of her fourth birthday, Muneera was suffering the effects of malnutrition, which had put her life in danger. Though she lived near Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, Muneera’s family did not have the resources to take her for medical care. Like thousands of other children in Yemen, the deteriorating conditions due to ongoing instability had led to malnutrition.

Behind Closed Doors: how traditional measures of poverty mask inequality inside the household and a new look at possible solutions

Caren Grown's picture

During the days coming up to, and after October 17, when many stories, numbers, and calls for action will mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we want to invite you to think for a second on what you imagine a poor household to be like. Is this a husband, wife, and children, or maybe an elderly couple? Are the children girls or boys? And more importantly, do all experience the same deprivations and challenges from the situation they live in?  In a recent blog post and paper, we showed that looking at who lives in poor homes—from gender differences to household composition more broadly—matters  to better understand and tackle poverty.

Globally, female and male poverty rates—defined as the share of women and men who live in poor households—are very similar (12.8 and 12.3 percent, respectively, based on 2013 data). Even in the two regions with the largest number of poor people (and highest poverty rates)—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—gender differences in poverty rates are quite small. This is true for the regions, but also for individual countries, irrespective of their share of poor people. Why is that the case? As Chapter 5 of the 2018 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report explains, our standard monetary poverty indicator is measured by household, not by individual. So, a person is classified as either poor or nonpoor according to the poverty status of the household in which she or he lives. This approach critically assumes everyone in the household shares equally in household consumption—be they a father, a young child, or a daughter-in-law.  By design, it thus masks differences in individual poverty within a household.

Notwithstanding this shortcoming, when we look a bit deeper the information we have today still shows visible gender differences in poverty rates. Take age, for example. We know that there are more poor children than poor adults, and while we do not find that poverty rates differ much between girls and boys at the early stages of life, stark differences appear between men and women during the peak productive and reproductive years.

Inclusiveness in the new Malaysia

Kenneth Simler's picture
Malaysia’s journey towards becoming a high-income nation will become more meaningful if all Malaysians are given the opportunity to share the benefits of prosperity. Photo: World Bank/Samuel Goh
Since 1992, October 17 has been recognized as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, or more simply, End Poverty Day by the World Bank. It is a day for the world to engage on the progress made and actions needed to end poverty.

To mark this year’s End Poverty Day, the World Bank has released its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle”, which documents the dramatic reduction in extreme poverty achieved from 1990 to 2015. In the span of 25 years, the share of people around the world living in extreme poverty line fell from 36% to 10% (from 1.9 billion to 736 million), despite the global population growing from 5 to 7 billion.

How can the Philippines achieve its ambitious vision of becoming a country free of poverty?

Rong Qian's picture

The Philippines’ economy has been booming since 2010, growing over 6% per year on average. The country is one of the top performers in the East Asia Pacific region, and its impressive economic performance is reflected in the towering skylines, luxurious condos, and huge shopping malls of Makati and Bonifacio Global City, the financial centers of Metro Manila. However, the country still has over 20% of the population living below national and international poverty line. Old jeepneys, the most popular means of transportation, carrying a massive number of commuters to and from expanding swathes of blighted areas portrait perfectly this contrast. My personal observation was quickly confirmed by the graph below.
 

We need to step up our efforts to end poverty in all of its dimensions

Jim Yong Kim's picture
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Each year on October. 17, we mark End Poverty Day at the World Bank Group to celebrate the progress we’ve made toward our twin goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030; and to boost shared prosperity among the poorest 40 percent around the world. But more importantly, we use this day to take stock of how much further we have to go.

Today, we released the latest Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report, which shows that we have never been closer to realizing those goals. The percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty has dropped from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015, the lowest it has ever been in recorded history. During that time, more than 1 billion people lifted themselves out of poverty. About half of the world’s countries have reduced extreme poverty below 3 percent – the target we set for the world to reach by 2030. 

Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss


In Afghanistan, the past decade saw remarkable progress, as well as reversals and lost opportunities.

The overall macroeconomic and security context in Afghanistan since 2007 can be broken into two distinct phases, pre- and post- the 2014 security transition, when international troops handed over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
 
The pre-transition phase was marked by higher economic growth (GDP per capita grew 63 percent relative to its 2007 value) and a relatively stable security situation.

Since 2014, growth has stagnated, falling below rates of population growth, and the security situation continues to deteriorate. With the withdrawal of most international troops and the steady decline in aid (both security and civilian aid) since 2012, the economy witnessed an enormous shock to demand, from which it is still struggling to recover.

Similarly, welfare can be characterized into two distinct phases.

Finishing the job of ending poverty in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture
This Bangladeshi woman was born in poverty. With the right kind of education, life in poverty quickly became a story from the past for her. Credit: World Bank

"I have a four-year-old son back in my village. I want to make a better life for him,” says Sharmin Akhtar, a 19-year-old employee in one of Dhaka’s many flourishing garment factories.

Like thousands of other poor women, Sharmin came down to Bangladesh’s capital from her village in the country’s north to seek a better job and create a more prosperous future for her family—leaving behind a life of crushing poverty.

Today, as we mark End Poverty Day 2018, it’s important to note that Sharmin’s heartening story is one of many in Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, where economic growth has spurred a dramatic decline in extreme poverty in the last 25 years.

And the numbers are striking: In South Asia, the number of extreme poor living on less than $1.90 a day dropped to 216 million people in 2015 from 275 million in 2013 and 536 million in 1990.

Even more remarkable, South Asian countries experienced an increase in incomes among the poorest 40 percent of 2.6 percent a year between 2010-2015, faster than the global average of 1.9 percent.

On a global scale, the highest concentration of poor shifted from South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. And India is likely to be overtaken, if it has not already been, by Nigeria as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty.

It’s worth thinking about how far South Asia has come – but remaining clear-eyed about how far we must go to finish the fight against extreme poverty.

Indeed, it is increasingly clear that poverty is more entrenched and harder to root out in certain areas, particularly in rural areas and in countries burdened by violent conflict and weak institutions.

Estimates for 2015 indicate that India, with 176 million poor people, continued to have the highest number of people in poverty and accounted for nearly a quarter of the global poor.

True, the extreme poverty rate is significantly lower in India relative to the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. But because of its large population, India’s total number of poor is still large.

And while there has been a substantial decline in the numbers and rate of people living below $1.90 in South Asia, the number of people living on less than $3.20 has declined by only 8 percent over 1990-2015 because of the growing population.

In 2015, 49 percent of the population of South Asia were living on less than $3.20 a day, and 80 percent were living on less than $5.50 a day.

Why the World Bank is adding new ways to measure poverty

Maria Ana Lugo's picture

The 2018 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report shows how poverty is changing and introduces improved ways to monitor our progress toward ending it.

The landscape of extreme poverty is now split in two. While most of the world has seen extreme poverty fall to below 3 percent of the population, Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing extreme poverty rates affecting more than 40 percent of people. The lamentable distinction of being home to the most people living in extreme poverty has shifted, or will soon shift, from India to Nigeria, symbolizing the increased concentration of poverty in Africa.

What’s behind the slowing pace of poverty reduction in Tajikistan?

Alisher Rajabov's picture


Tajikistan achieved high rates of economic growth during the 2000s (about 8% per year, on average), which doubled GDP per capita and helped reduce poverty by almost half between 1999 and 2009. But over the following decade, the rate of poverty reduction began to slow – between 2012 and 2017, poverty fell by about 7.5 percentage points.
 
While employment and growing income levels continued to slowly drive poverty reduction, a fall in the value of remittances in 2014 began weighing on the country’s performance. Since then, the poverty rate has fallen by about just 1 percentage point per year.
 
So, despite continued growth, why has the pace of poverty reduction slowed in Tajikistan?

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