Global Poverty and Inequality: A Review of the Evidence

44 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Francisco H. G. Ferreira

Francisco H. G. Ferreira

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Martin Ravallion

Georgetown University

Date Written: May 1, 2008


Drawing on a compilation of data from household surveys representing 130 countries, many over a period of 25 years, this paper reviews the evidence on levels and recent trends in global povertyand income inequality. It documents the negative correlations between both poverty and inequality indices, on the one hand, and mean income per capita on the other. It points to the dominant role of Asia in accounting for the bulk of the world's poverty reduction since 1981. The evolution of global inequality in the last decades is also described, with special emphasis on the different trends of inequality within and between countries. The statistical relationships between growth, inequality and poverty are discussed, as is the correlation between inequality and the growth elasticity of poverty reduction. Some of the recent literature on the drivers of distributional change in developing countries is also reviewed.

Keywords: Inequality, Achieving Shared Growth, Services & Transfers to Poor, Population Policies, Poverty Impact Evaluation

Suggested Citation

Ferreira, Francisco H. G. and Ravallion, Martin, Global Poverty and Inequality: A Review of the Evidence (May 1, 2008). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4623, Available at SSRN:

Francisco H. G. Ferreira (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-4382 (Phone)

Martin Ravallion

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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