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The Debate on Globalization, Poverty and Inequality: why Measurement Matters

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  • Martin Ravallion

Abstract

In the last year or so, markedly different claims have been heard within the development community about how just much progress is being made against poverty and inequality in the current period of “globalization.” This paper provides a non-technical overview of the conceptual and methodological issues underlying these conflicting claims. The paper argues that the dramatically differing positions taken in this debate often stem from differences in the concepts and definitions used and differences in data sources and measurement assumptions. These differences are often hidden from view in the debate, but they need to be considered carefully if one is to properly interpret the evidence. The paper argues that the best available evidence suggests that, if the rate of progress against absolute poverty in the developing world in the 1990s is maintained, then the Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 aggregate poverty rate by 2015 will be achieved on time in the aggregate, though not in all regions. The paper concludes with some observations on the implications for policy-oriented debates on globalization and pro-poor growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Ravallion, 2004. "The Debate on Globalization, Poverty and Inequality: why Measurement Matters," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 1, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:rar:journl:0002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-382, May.
    2. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
    3. 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;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(3), pages 307-344.
    4. Gaurav Datt & Martin Ravallion, 2002. "Is India's Economic Growth Leaving the Poor Behind?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
    5. Bob Baulch & John Hoddinott, 2000. "Economic mobility and poverty dynamics in developing countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 1-24.
    6. Mistiaen, Johan A. & Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Survey compliance and the distribution of income," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2956, The World Bank.
    7. Cowell, F.A., 2000. "Measurement of inequality," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 87-166 Elsevier.
    8. Bourguignon, F. & Morrisson, C., 1990. "Income distribution, development and foreign trade : A cross-sectional analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1113-1132, September.
    9. Surjit Bhalla, 2002. "Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalization," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 348.
    10. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2002. "The World Distribution of Income (estimated from Individual Country Distributions)," NBER Working Papers 8933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Stanley Fischer, 2003. "Globalization and Its Challenges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 1-30, May.
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    15. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
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    18. Jyotsna Jalan & Martin Ravallion, 1998. "Geographic Poverty Traps?," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 86, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    19. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Globalization; Inequality; Poverty; Economic Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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