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Why don't we see poverty convergence ?

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  • Ravallion, Martin

Abstract

We are not seeing faster progress against poverty amongst the poorest developing countries. Yet this is implied by widely accepted"stylized facts"about the development process. The paper tries to explain what is missing from those stylized facts. Consistently with models of economic growth incorporating borrowing constraints, the analysis of a new data set for 100 developing countries reveals an adverse effect on consumption growth of high initial poverty incidence at a given initial mean. A high incidence of poverty also entails a lower subsequent rate of progress against poverty at any given growth rate (and poor countries tend to experience less steep increases in poverty during recessions). Thus, for many poor countries, the growth advantage of starting out with a low mean ("conditional convergence") is lost due to their high poverty rates. The size of the middle class--measured by developing-country, not Western, standards--appears to be an important channel linking current poverty to subsequent growth and poverty reduction. However, high current inequality is only a handicap if it entails a high incidence of poverty relative to mean consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4974.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4974

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Keywords: Achieving Shared Growth; Inequality; Regional Economic Development; Rural Poverty Reduction; Services&Transfers to Poor;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ghani, Ejaz & Iyer, Lakshmi & Mishra, Saurabh, 2013. "Promoting Shared Prosperity in South Asia," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 110, pages 1-8, March.
  2. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  3. Davis, Graham A. & Vásquez Cordano, Arturo L., 2013. "The fate of the poor in growing mineral and energy economies," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 138-151.
  4. Christiaensen, Luc & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2013. "Poverty reduction during the rural-urban transformation : the role of the missing middle," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6445, The World Bank.
  5. Loayza, Norman & Rigolini, Jamele & Llorente, Gonzalo, 2012. "Do middle classes bring about institutional reforms?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 440-444.
  6. Jesús Crespo Cuaresma & Stephan Klasen & Konstantin M. Wacker, 2013. "Why We Don’t See Poverty Convergence: The Role of Macroeconomic Volatility," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 153, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  7. Ravallion, Martin, 2010. "The Developing World's Bulging (but Vulnerable) Middle Class," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 445-454, April.
  8. Segal, Paul, 2011. "Resource Rents, Redistribution, and Halving Global Poverty: The Resource Dividend," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 475-489, April.
  9. Christiaensen, Luc & De Weerdt, Joachim & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2013. "Urbanization and poverty reduction -- the role of rural diversification and secondary towns," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6422, The World Bank.
  10. Bruton, Garry D. & Ketchen, David J. & Ireland, R. Duane, 2013. "Entrepreneurship as a solution to poverty," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 683-689.
  11. Bagchi, Sutirtha & Svejnar, Jan, 2013. "Does Wealth Inequality Matter for Growth? The Effect of Billionaire Wealth, Income Distribution, and Poverty," IZA Discussion Papers 7733, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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