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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).

A Better Measure of Shared Prosperity

One of the World Bank’s two goals for developing countries is to “share prosperity,” which it measures by the growth rate in mean consumption (or income) for the poorest 40 percent of the population. That metric has the appeal of simplicity, but it tells us nothing at all about how rising prosperity — or economic contraction — is being shared among the poorest 40 percent.

The United States Can Give Better Aid to Haiti

This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post

Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.

But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.

World Bank Revisits the Meaning of "Absolute" Poverty

This is a joint posting with Martina Tonizzo
The World Bank has announced a new poverty line on the basis of revised estimates of Purchasing Price Parity (PPP) price levels around the world. In the working paper that explains the basis for the new line, poverty measurement guru Martin Ravallion and his co-authors make two proposals.

Controversy over World Bank trade & poverty estimates

Three years ago the World Bank said that freeing international trade of all barriers and subsidies would lift 320 million people above the $2 a day poverty line by 2015. But new World Bank projections emphasizing $1 a day poverty and based on new data and methods put the number at just 32 million people. CGD/IIE Senior Fellow William R. Cline, author of Trade Policy and Global Poverty, has been examining the Bank's new calculations and argues that the first estimate was closer to the truth.