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Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion: What if Three-quarters of the World?s Poor Live in Middle-income Countries?


  • Andy Sumner

    () (Institute of Development Studies, Sussex)


This paper argues that the problem of global poverty has changed because most of the world?s poor no longer live in poor countries, meaning low-income countries (LICs). In the past, poverty was viewed predominantly as a LIC issue. Nowadays such simplistic assumptions/classifications can be misleading because a number of the large countries that have graduated into the middle-income (MIC) category still have large numbers of poor people. We estimate that in 1990 some 93 per cent of the world?s poor people lived in LICs. In contrast, we estimate that in 2007-2008 some three-quarters of the world?s approximately 1.3 billion poor people now live in MICs; only about a quarter of the poor (about 370 million) live in the remaining 39 LICs, which are mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. (?)

Suggested Citation

  • Andy Sumner, 2010. "Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion: What if Three-quarters of the World?s Poor Live in Middle-income Countries?," Working Papers 74, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipc:wpaper:74

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Owen Barder, 2009. "What is Poverty Reduction?," Working Papers 170, Center for Global Development.
    2. Owen Barder, 2009. "Beyond Planning: Markets and Networks for Better Aid," Working Papers 185, Center for Global Development.
    3. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2007. "Absolute poverty measures for the developing world, 1981-2004," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4211, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriela Guerrero & Juan Leon & Kirrily Pells & Martin Woodhead, 2014. "Changing Children’s Lives Risks and Opportunities (Cambiando la vida de los niños)," Documentos de Trabajo (Niños del Milenio-GRADE) ninosmcambiandolavida, Niños del Milenio (Young Lives).
    2. Elleby, Christian, 2014. "Poverty and Price Transmission," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182722, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Bodenstein, Thilo & Kemmerling, Achim, 2015. "A Paradox of Redistribution in International Aid? The Determinants of Poverty-Oriented Development Assistance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 359-369.
    4. Raquel Almeida Ramos, 2012. "Financial Flows and Exchange Rates: Challenges Faced by Developing Countries," Working Papers 97, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    5. Farole, Thomas, 2012. "Competitiveness and Connectivity: Integrating Lagging Regions in Global Markets," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 93, pages 1-5, October.
    6. Tony Addison & Miguel Niño‐Zarazúa & Finn Tarp, 2015. "Aid, Social Policy and Development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(8), pages 1351-1365, November.
    7. Feeny, Simon & Vuong, Vu, 2017. "Explaining Aid Project and Program Success: Findings from Asian Development Bank Interventions," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 329-343.
    8. Armando Barrientos, 2016. "Inequality, Poverty, and Antipoverty Transfers," Working Papers id:11190, eSocialSciences.
    9. Lawrence Haddad, 2015. "Equity: Not Only for Idealists," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 33(1), pages 5-13, January.


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