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Over the weekend, Angus Deaton won the Nobel Prize in economics. The previous weekend, the World Bank announced that the global poverty rate dipped below 10 percent in 2015, for the first time in history. These two announcements have an interesting connection.
There have been numerous estimates of future poverty to 2030 based on projections of growth and inequality that rely on informed assumptions and guess work. With that method, no matter how carefully done, you’re almost certain to get it wrong. So Peter Edward and I decided to do something different: look back at growth and its distribution since 1990 and see what it would have taken to have ended global poverty by now based on the actual data.
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.