Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.


The World Bank’s Poverty Statistics Lack Median Income Data, So We Filled In the Gap Ourselves — Download Available

PovcalNet, the World Bank’s global poverty database, provides all kinds of country statistics, including mean income, the share (and number) of the population living in absolute poverty ($1.90), the poverty gap and several measures of income inequality, such as the Gini coefficient. But one thing it doesn’t provide is median income or consumption. The median is a better measure of “typical” well-being than the mean, which is always skewed to the right.

We’ve been waiting for the World Bank to add these medians to its PovcalNet database, but we got impatient and did it ourselves. By manually running a few hundred queries in PovcalNet, we now have (and can share with you) the latest median income/consumption data for 144 countries (using 2011 PPPs — more on our methods below).

Davos Dreaming: Development without Development

It's that time of year again when presidents, CEOs and civil society leaders get together at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaving the rest of us to wonder whether it is really true that a small number of very rich people at the top of the income distribution own more than the bottom half of the world.

When Does One Dime = 100 Million People?

Ending extreme poverty is likely to be one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. So it is a good idea to figure out what that entails. And it turns out that it’s become more complex in the last year or so. That’s because new price data, 2011 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) estimates, were released in 2014 and the World Bank’s global poverty database, PovcalNet, also had a substantial update.

Related Research

SDG One: First Fix the Goalposts

This is the latest in a series of CGD blogs suggesting improvements to the SDG targets.

The first target of the first goal of the Sustainable Development Goals is to “eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere” by 2030.  The second target is to “reduce at least by half the proportion of…. [people] living in poverty…..according to national definitions.”  

National Vices, Global Virtue: Is the World Becoming More Equal?

You may find the answer surprising, but the most recent data show that the world as a whole is becoming more equal, driven by fast growth rates of China and India and slower growth rates in rich countries. A decrease in the US mean income from 2008 to 2011, for instance, makes global convergence of people’s incomes a lot easier to achieve.