What Can New Survey Data Tell Us About Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?
41 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: December 1996
Is it true that the poor have lost ground, even as average living standards have risen? No. Poor people typically share in rising average living standards. It has been claimed that in recent times the poor have lost ground, both relatively and absolutely, even as average standards of living were rising. Ravallion and Chen test that claim, using more than 100 household surveys for more than 40 countries.
Overall there was a small decrease in poverty incidence in 1987-93, though experiences differed across regions and countries. There was no general tendency for inequality or polarization to increase with growth. Distribution improves as often as it worsens in growing economies, and negative growth often appears to be highly detrimental to distribution. Poor people typically do share in rising average living standards. This holds in all regions.
This paper - a product of the Poverty and Human Resources Division, Policy Research Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to monitor progress in reducing poverty in the world.
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