Published on Data Blog

How do you access data on poverty?

End Poverty Day tomorrow comes among heightened discussion about poverty’s causes, its measurement and what we can do to end it.   

The international extreme poverty line has been updated to $1.90/day, the recent Global Monitoring Report projects that the number of people living below this line will fall below 10% this year, and the Bank has just announced it’s stepping up efforts to boost data collection in the poorest countries, many of which suffer from “data deprivation”.

New Poverty Data Widget

These headlines are great, but how do you actually get to the data? If you want to quickly find how many people live below the international poverty line in a given country, you can use and embed this new widget that’s connected to the World Bank’s PovCalNet database:

4 more ways of accessing poverty data

Here are some other tools I find useful for accessing poverty data:

The World Development Indicators Online Tables

The WDI online tables present simple summary tables of WDI data in a familiar format (that’s also easy to print if you’re that way inclined). Table 2.8 presents national poverty rates at the $1.90 line and Table 2.8.2 gives a world and regional summary.

The WDI Database

The WDI database offers bulk downloads in XLS and CSV form, as well as API access to thousands of indicators including poverty gaps, headcount ratios and poverty gaps using national poverty lines.

The PovCalNet Analysis Tool

The tool behind the widget - PovCalNet - is an interactive platform for performing poverty calculations. While you can simply replicate the World Bank’s own $1.90 / day calculations, its real power lies in the parameters you can adjust - whether it’s choosing different survey reference years, switching between 2005 and 2011 PPPs or entering your own poverty line.

Using Python / R / Stata and the APIs  

I’ve already written about accessing the Bank’s data through various programing language libraries and the same methods apply for poverty data - you can access all the WDI indicators that use the updated $1.90 poverty line via these tools.

That’s just what I use - if you have any ideas or suggestions for how you’d like to access poverty data, let us know!


Tariq Khokhar

Global Data Editor & Senior Data Scientist

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