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The world distribution of income (estimated from individual country distributions)

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We estimate the world distribution of income by integrating individual income distributions for 125 countries between 1970 and 1998. We estimate poverty rates and headcounts by integrating the density function below the $1/day and $2/day poverty lines. We find that poverty rates decline substantially over the last twenty years. We compute poverty headcounts and find that the number of one-dollar poor declined by 235 million between 1976 and 1998. The number of $2/day poor declined by 450 million over the same period. We analyze poverty across different regions and countries. Asia is a great success, especially after 1980. Latin America reduced poverty substantially in the 1970s but progress stopped in the 1980s and 1990s. The worst performer was Africa, where poverty rates increased substantially over the last thirty years: the number of $1/day poor in Africa increased by 175 million between 1970 and 1998, and the number of $2/day poor increased by 227. Africa hosted 11% of the world’s poor in 1960. It hosted 66% of them in 1998. We estimate nine indexes of income inequality implied by our world distribution of income. All of them show substantial reductions in global income inequality during the 1980s and 1990s.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 615.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision: May 2002
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:615

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Income inequality; poverty; world distribution of income; growth;

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  1. Bourguignon, Francois, 1979. "Decomposable Income Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(4), pages 901-20, July.
  2. Grosh, Margaret E & Nafziger, E Wayne, 1986. "The Computation of World Income Distribution," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 347-59, January.
  3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2001. "The disturbing 'rise' of global income inequality," Economics Working Papers 616, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2002.
  4. 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.
  5. Michael Kremer & Alexei Onatski & James Stock, 2001. "Searching for Prosperity," NBER Working Papers 8250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. T. Paul Schultz, 1998. "Inequality in the distribution of personal income in the world: How it is changing and why," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 307-344.
  8. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
  9. Quah, Danny, 2002. "One Third of the World's Growth and Inequality," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  10. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 1996. "What can new survey data tell us about recent changes in distribution and poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1694, The World Bank.
  11. Steve Dowrick & Muhammad Akmal, 2005. "Contradictory Trends In Global Income Inequality: A Tale Of Two Biases ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(2), pages 201-229, 06.
  12. Danny Quah, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp0280, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. 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.
  14. Quah, Danny, 2002. "One Third of the World's Growth and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 3316, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Quah, Danny T, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 1045-55, July.
  16. T. Paul Schultz, 1998. "Inequality in the Distribution of Personal Income in the World: How it is Changing and Why," Working Papers 784, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  17. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-25, April.
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