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Global poverty and inequality : a review of the evidence

  • Ferreira, Francisco H.G.
  • Ravallion, Martin

Drawing on a compilation of data from household surveys representing 130 countries, many over a period of 25 years, this paper reviews the evidence on levels and recent trends in global poverty and income inequality. It documents the negative correlations between both poverty and inequality indices, on the one hand, and mean income per capita on the other. It points to the dominant role of Asia in accounting for the bulk of the world's poverty reduction since 1981. The evolution of global inequality in the last decades is also described, with special emphasis on the different trends of inequality within and between countries. The statistical relationships between growth, inequality and poverty are discussed, as is the correlation between inequality and the growth elasticity of poverty reduction. Some of the recent literature on the drivers of distributional change in developing countries is also reviewed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4623.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4623
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  1. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1992. "Growth and redistribution components of changes in poverty measures : A decomposition with applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 275-295, April.
  2. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2001. "Inequality among World Citizens : 1820-1992," DELTA Working Papers 2001-18, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 2002. "Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 381-400, August.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 357-82, May.
  6. Bourguignon, Francois, 1979. "Decomposable Income Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(4), pages 901-20, July.
  7. Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Leite, Phillippe G. & Ravallion, Martin, 2010. "Poverty reduction without economic growth?: Explaining Brazil's poverty dynamics, 1985-2004," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 20-36, September.
  8. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1996. "How Important to India's Poor Is the Sectoral Composition of Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, January.
  9. Ravallion, Martin, 2004. "Competing concepts of inequality in the globalization debate," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3243, The World Bank.
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  11. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "How Did the World's Poorest Fare in the 1990s?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(3), pages 283-300, September.
  12. Banerjee, Abhijit & Piketty, Thomas, 2004. "Top Indian Incomes, 1922-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 4632, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  14. Anton Korinek & Johan Mistiaen & Martin Ravallion, 2006. "Survey nonresponse and the distribution of income," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 33-55, April.
  15. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin & DEC, 1994. "Poverty and household size," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1332, The World Bank.
  16. Amparo Castello & Rafael Domenech, 2002. "Human Capital Inequality and Economic Growth: Some New Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C187-C200, March.
  17. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Leite, Phillippe G. & Wai-Poi, Matthew, 2007. "Trade liberalization, employment flows, and wage inequality in Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4108, The World Bank.
  18. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2004. "How Have the World's Poorest Fared since the Early 1980s?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 141-169.
  19. Coulter, Fiona A E & Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1992. "Equivalence Scale Relativities and the Extent of Inequality and Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1067-82, September.
  20. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2006. "The World Distribution of Income: Falling Poverty and ... Convergence, Period," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 351-397, May.
  21. Branko Milanovic, 2006. "Economic Integration and Income Convergence: Not Such a Strong Link?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 659-670, November.
  22. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Leite, Phillippe G. & Pereira da Silva, Luiz A. & Picchetti, Paulo, 2004. "Can the distributional impacts of macroeconomic shocks be predicted? A comparison of the performance of macro-micro models with historical data for Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3303, The World Bank.
  23. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Can high-inequality developing countries escape absolute poverty?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 51-57, September.
  24. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
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  26. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 2004. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3408, The World Bank.
  27. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Why have some Indian states done better than others at reducing rural poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1594, The World Bank.
  28. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
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  30. Milanovic, Branko, 1999. "True world income distribution, 1988 and 1993 - first calculations, based on household surveys alone," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2244, The World Bank.
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  32. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  33. Martin Ravallion & Michael Lokshin, 2007. "Lasting Impacts of Indonesia’s Financial Crisis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 27-56.
  34. Robert Ackland & Steve Dowrick & Benoit Freyens, 2013. "Measuring Global Poverty: Why PPP Methods Matter," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 813-824, July.
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