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global poverty and inequality, inclusive growth, structural transformation, the future of foreign aid, Southeast Asia
Andy Sumner is a reader in International Development in the Department of International Development at King’s College London.
His research is at the interface of development studies and development economics.
His research interests focus on the distributional and welfare dynamics of late economic development in developing countries and Southeast Asia in particular, notably Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In short, how different modes of economic development and structural change have different welfare outcomes.
He has fifteen years’ international research experience using both qualitative and quantitative methods and has published extensively, including ten books. His most recent books are Global Poverty (2016, OUP) and Development and Distribution (2018, OUP).
He is director of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Global Challenges Strategic Research Network on Global Poverty and Inequality Dynamics.
He was appointed at King’s in 2012 and established, with Peter Kingstone, the International Development Institute which became the Department of International Development. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex.
He is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and has also held various roles in academic networks, including as a vice president of, and UK representative to, the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) from 2008 to 2014, and as a council member of the Development Studies Association, UK and Ireland, from 2000 to 2014.
He is an editorial board member of Global Policy, the Journal of International Development, of the European Journal of Development Research. He is also deputy executive editor of Global Policy and book series co-editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s Rethinking International Development.
He is a visiting fellow at CGD and a non-resident fellow at UNU-WIDER and also holds associate positions at Oxford University and Padjadjaran University, Indonesia.
His research has been cited by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), by international development agencies such as the World Bank and UN agencies, and by media including The Economist. He has also been asked to contribute expertise to various policy-related processes such as the Select Committees of the House of Commons, the UN International Panel on Climate Change, and a Lancet Poverty Commission, and he has been listed in US magazine Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and in the Huffington Post’s “Most Influential Voices.”
Middle-income countries are now home to most of the world’s extreme poor and to what Andy Sumner calls the “buoyant billions”—those living on between $2 and $10 a day. Sumner follows the trends and implications.
This Wonkcast was originally recorded in February 2011. Andy Sumner updates the data from the original Bottom Billion brief in his recent working paper, Where Will the World's Poor Live? An Update on Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion.
Paul Collier’s 2007 book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, changed the way we think about poverty and development. Collier argued that the majority of the 5-billion people in the "developing world" live in countries with sustained high growth rates and would eventually escape from poverty. The rest—the bottom billion—live in 58 small, poor, often land-locked countries that are growing very slowly or not at all. These countries, stuck in poverty traps, should be the focus of foreign aid, Collier argued.
Most of the world’s extreme poor live in countries classified by the World Bank as middle-income countries. This apparent “poverty paradox” has important implications. For one, middle-income countries have substantially more domestic resources available to fight poverty than low-income countries do.
Global health funders have historically focused their aid on countries with the lowest per capita incomes, on the assumption that that’s where most of world’s poor people live. In recent years, however, many large developing countries achieved rapid growth, lifting them into the ranks of the so-called middle-income countries, or MICs, even though they are still home to hundreds of millions of very poor people. Andy Sumner has called the poor people in the MICs a “new bottom billion,” as distinct from the bottom billion in poor and fragile states that Paul Collier wrote about in his popular 2007 book.
This is the data set for Working Paper 327, “The Future of Global Poverty in a Multi-Speed World: New Estimates of Scale and Location, 2010–2030,” in which Peter Edward and Andy Sumner introduce new model of growth, inequality, and poverty that allows comparison of a wide range of input assumptions.
This paper makes new estimates of global poverty and inequality in 2012 using both ‘old’, 2005 and ‘new’, 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) price data in order to assess systematically what difference PPP data makes to the estimates.
Zambia and Ghana are the 27th and 28th countries the World Bank has reclassified as middle-income since the year 2000
Doctors perform cataract surgery at the Lusaka Eye Hospital in Zambia. It's inexpensive and it changes people's lives instantly, so it's a good example of how just a little bit more money can make a huge difference to the world's poorest people. Photograph: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images
Remember the poverty trap? Countries stuck in destitution because of weak institutions put in place by colonial overlords, or because of climates that foster disease, or geographies that limit access to global markets, or simply by the fact that poverty is overwhelmingly self-perpetuating. Apparently the trap can be escaped.