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Price Indexes, Inequality, and the Measurement of World Poverty

  • Angus Deaton

I discuss the measurement of world poverty and inequality, with particular attention to the role of purchasing power parity (PPP) price indexes from the International Comparison Project. Global inequality increased with the latest revision of the ICP, and this reduced the global poverty line relative to the US dollar. The recent large increase of nearly half a billion poor people came from an inappropriate updating of the global poverty line, not from the ICP revisions. Even so, PPP comparisons between widely different countries rest on weak theoretical and empirical foundations. I argue for wider use of self-reports from international monitoring surveys, and for a global poverty line that is truly denominated in US dollars. (JEL C43, D31, I31, I32, F31)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 5-34

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:5-34
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.5
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  1. Angus Deaton, 2003. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," NBER Working Papers 9822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  3. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931, March.
  4. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Theo Goedhart & Victor Halberstadt & Arie Kapteyn & Bernard van Praag, 1977. "The Poverty Line: Concept and Measurement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 12(4), pages 503-520.
  7. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gallup_world_poll_jep_spring2008 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2001. "Inequality among World Citizens : 1820-1992," DELTA Working Papers 2001-18, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  9. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
  10. de Vos, Klaas & Garner, Thesia I, 1991. "An Evaluation of Subjective Poverty Definitions: Comparing Results from the U.S. and the Netherlands," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 267-85, September.
  11. Diewert, Erwin, 2008. "New Methodology for Linking the Regions," Economics working papers erwin_diewert-2008-9, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Sep 2008.
  12. Sudhir Anand & Paul Segal, 2008. "What Do We Know about Global Income Inequality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 57-94, March.
  13. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2009. "Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 15433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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