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A poverty-inequality trade-off?

  • Ravallion, Martin

The idea that developing countries face a trade-off between poverty and inequality has had considerable influence on thinking about development policy. The experience of developing countries in the 1990s does not, however, reveal any sign of a systematic trade-off between measures of absolute poverty and relative inequality. Indeed, falling inequality tends to come with falling poverty incidence. And rising inequality appears more likely to be putting a brake on poverty reduction than to be facilitating it. However, there is evidence of a trade-off for absolute inequality, suggesting that those who want a lower absolute gap between the rich and the poor must in general be willing to see lower absolute levels of living for poor people.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3579.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3579
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  1. Frank Cowell, 1998. "Measurement of inequality," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2084, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Kraay, Aart, 2006. "When is growth pro-poor? Evidence from a panel of countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 198-227, June.
  3. Anand, Sudhir & Kanbur, S. M. R., 1993. "The Kuznets process and the inequality--development relationship," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 25-52, February.
  4. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2003. "Halving Global Poverty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  5. Bruno, Michael & Ravallion, Martin & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "Equity and growth in developing countries : old and new perspectives on the policy issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1563, The World Bank.
  6. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, inequality, and poverty : looking beyond averages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2558, The World Bank.
  7. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 1996. "What can new survey data tell us about recent changes in distribution and poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1694, The World Bank.
  8. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Poverty and Economic Growth with Application to Cote d'Ivoire," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(2), pages 121-39, June.
  9. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. II," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 82-111, August.
  10. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. I," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 416-442, June.
  11. Ravallion, Martin, 2004. "Competing concepts of inequality in the globalization debate," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3243, The World Bank.
  12. Ravallion, Martin & Huppi, Monika, 1991. "Measuring Changes in Poverty: A Methodological Case Study of Indonesia during an Adjustment Period," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 57-82, January.
  13. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Poverty and policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1130, The World Bank.
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