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

  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Chen, Shaohua

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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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. Shaohua Chen & Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Is poverty increasing in the developing world?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1146, The World Bank.
  2. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521433297 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  5. Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Growth and poverty: Evidence for developing countries in the 1980s," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 411-417, June.
  6. Clarke, George R. G., 1995. "More evidence on income distribution and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 403-427, August.
  7. Squire, Lyn, 1993. "Fighting Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 377-82, May.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  9. Milanovic, Branko, 1995. "Poverty, inequality, and social policy in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1530, The World Bank.
  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 & 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.
  12. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521438827 is not listed on IDEAS
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