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Price Indexes, Inequality, and the Measurement of World Poverty

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  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Angus Deaton, 2010. "Price Indexes, Inequality, and the Measurement of World Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 5-34, March.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2002. "Inequality Among World Citizens: 1820-1992," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 727-744, September.
    3. A. B. Atkinson, 2003. "Income Inequality in OECD Countries: Data and Explanations," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 49(4), pages 479-513.
    4. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gallup_world_poll_jep_spring2008 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 1-19, February.
    6. Diewert, Erwin, 2008. "New Methodology for Linking the Regions," Economics working papers erwin_diewert-2008-9, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Sep 2008.
    7. 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.
    8. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931.
    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 345-361, December.
    10. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gallup_world_poll_jep_spring2008.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
    12. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
    13. 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 267-285, September.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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