Global Absolute Poverty: The Beginning of the End?

18 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2020 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021

See all articles by Sanjay G. Reddy

Sanjay G. Reddy

The New School - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 10, 2020


The first Sustainable Development Goal of “Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere” must be interpreted in light of an understanding of what “poverty in all its forms” means societally. It cannot be reduced to a narrow technical focus on official targets and indicators. There are reasons for concern that the official indicators are unsatisfactory, and that there is a considerable gap between the portrait they present and the societal understanding of poverty. Even if conventional approaches to global poverty estimation are used, considering a range of alternative poverty lines, demonstrates that the poverty identification criterion can significantly influence the conclusions drawn about how much poverty there is, where it is, how it is evolving over time, and what are the appropriate priorities and policies. While poverty is expected to be nearly “eliminated” in regions other than Sub-Saharan Africa at the lowest poverty lines, this is not true at higher poverty lines. The projected regional composition of future poverty is also greatly dependent on the choice of poverty line, as poverty in the other world regions increases markedly at higher lines. The elimination of poverty by 2030 was already unlikely but the world economic contraction due to Covid-19 has made it more difficult.

Keywords: Poverty, Income Poverty, Global Poverty, $1.90, Sdg 1, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Sustainable Development Goals

Suggested Citation

Reddy, Sanjay G., Global Absolute Poverty: The Beginning of the End? (February 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Sanjay G. Reddy (Contact Author)

The New School - Department of Economics ( email )

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New York, NY 10003
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