Published on Let's Talk Development

Global poverty, absolute poverty, relative poverty: A fresh look

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Attention to the issues of relative poverty and inequality is intensifying amidst today's fragile global economy. While pre-crisis economic growth generally reduced the incidence of absolute poverty, concerns remain about relative deprivation and social exclusion, which don't necessarily decline just because someone moves out of extreme poverty. Given this, it may be time to devise a reasonable global measure of relative poverty, alongside prevailing absolute measures.

Martin Ravallion elucidated on this during a July 10 lecture at Sydney's UTS Business School, titled "A Fresh Look at Poverty: More Relatively-Poor People in a Less Absolutely-Poor World".

Here is the Powerpoint presentation from his lecture, which drew from a new working paper he wrote with Shaohua Chen, "More Relatively-Poor People in a Less Absolutely-Poor World." The paper examines how different regions have been performing in terms of both absolute and relative poverty and identifies the factors that underlie the differences.

Listen to a Radio Australia podcast interview with Martin here.


Merrell Tuck-Primdahl

Communications Director, Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program

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