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When method matters : toward a resolution of the debate about Bangladesh's poverty measures

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  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Sen, Binayak

Abstract

Measurement problemshave confounded recent attempts to assess Bangladesh's progress in reducing poverty. The issues at stake, though poorly understood, are common in poverty measurement. The authors review the issues, recommend an operational approach to resolving them with available data, and present new estimates of various poverty measures on a consistent basis for 1983-92. They then examine proximate causes of the changes in Bangladesh's poverty measures and possible implications for future assessments of the country's progress in reducing poverty under alternative growth paths. The authors argue that poverty measurement requires both normative value and judgement and assumptions about behavior to interpret available - invariably imperfect - data. Of interest for policymakers is how much bearing the analyst's choices have on key conclusions. They use the case study of Bangladesh to illustrate that those choices sometimes - but not always - affect qualitative conclusions about the sectoral structure of poverty. There appear to be considerable discrepancies among recent estimates of poverty measures for Bangladesh - even when the same survey data and a similar specification of food-energy requirements are used. The author's contend that all recent estimates are questionable from one viewpoint or another, although some problems are more worrisome than others. They propose a new series that, they hope, preserves the best features of previous work and eliminates the others. They believe that their estimates are more consistent over time and space than some others in the literature - consistent in the sense that two people with the same command over basic consumption needs will be treated the same way by the poverty measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & Sen, Binayak, 1994. "When method matters : toward a resolution of the debate about Bangladesh's poverty measures," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1359, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1359
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    2. Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "Urban-rural cost-of-living differentials in a developing economy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 113-127, January.
    3. Paul, Satya, 1989. "A model of constructing the poverty line," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 129-144, January.
    4. Ravallion, Martin, 1991. "The challenging arithmetic of poverty in Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 586, The World Bank.
    5. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-231, March.
    6. Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1986. "A methodology for measuring food poverty applied to Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 59-74, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kazi Arif Uz Zaman & Takahiro Akita, 2011. "Spatial Dimensions of Income Inequality and Poverty in Bangladesh: An Analysis of the 2005 Household Income and Expenditure Survey Data," Working Papers EMS_2011_20, Research Institute, International University of Japan.
    2. Quentin Wodon, 2000. "Microdeterminants of consumption, poverty, growth, and inequality in Bangladesh," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(10), pages 1337-1352.
    3. Wodon, Quentin T., 1999. "Growth, poverty, and inequality : a regional panel for Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2072, The World Bank.
    4. repec:ris:badest:0540 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mohinder S. Mudahar & Raisuddin Ahmed, 2010. "Government and Rural Transformation : Role of Public Spending and Policies in Bangladesh," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 16356, June.
    6. Shahidur R. Khandker, 2005. "Microfinance and Poverty: Evidence Using Panel Data from Bangladesh," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 263-286.
    7. Mustafa K. Mujeri, 2000. "Poverty Trends and Growth Performance: Some Issues in Bangladesh," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 1171-1191.
    8. Islam, S.M.A, 2009. "Inequality and economic growth in Bangladesh–a diversified evidence on Kuznets pattern `U` hypothesis," Journal of the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh Agricultural University Research System (BAURES), vol. 7.

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