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What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?

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  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Chen, Shaohua

Abstract

It has been claimed that in recent times the poor have lost ground, both relatively and absolutely, even when average levels of living have risen. This article tests that claim using household surveys for 67 developing and transitional economies over 1981-94. It finds that changes in inequality and polarization were uncorrelated with changes in average living standards. Distribution improved as often as it worsened in growing economies, and negative growth was often more detrimental to distribution than positive growth. Overall, there was a small decrease in absolute poverty, although with diverse experiences across regions aced countries. Almost always, poverty fell with growth in average living standards and rose with contraction. Copyright 1997 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 11 (1997)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 357-82

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:11:y:1997:i:2:p:357-82

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  1. Atkinson,Anthony Barnes & Micklewright,John, 1992. "Economic Transformation in Eastern Europe and the Distribution of Income," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521438827, October.
  2. Clarke, George R. G., 1995. "More evidence on income distribution and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 403-427, August.
  3. Shaohua Chen & Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Is poverty increasing in the developing world?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1146, The World Bank.
  4. Squire, Lyn, 1993. "Fighting Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 377-82, May.
  5. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
  6. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  8. Milanovic, Branko, 1995. "Poverty, inequality, and social policy in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1530, The World Bank.
  9. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "Quantifying Absolute Poverty in the Developing World," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 345-61, December.
  10. Fields, Gary S, 1989. "Changes in Poverty and Inequality in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 4(2), pages 167-85, July.
  11. Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Growth and poverty: Evidence for developing countries in the 1980s," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 411-417, June.
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