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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Ravallion, Martin, 2008. "Global poverty and inequality : a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4623, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4623

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ali Abdel Gadir Ali, "undated". "The Political Economy of Inequality in the Arab Region and Relevant Development Policies," API-Working Paper Series 0904, Arab Planning Institute - Kuwait, Information Center.
    2. Kym Anderson & John Cockburn & Will Martin, 2011. "Would Freeing Up World Trade Reduce Poverty and Inequality? The Vexed Role of Agricultural Distortions," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 487-515, April.
    3. Lustig, Nora & Lopez-Calva, Luis F. & Ortiz-Juarez, Eduardo, 2013. "Declining Inequality in Latin America in the 2000s: The Cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 129-141.
    4. Nora Lustig & Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva & Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, 2011. "The decline in inequality in Latin America: How much, since when and why," Working Papers 211, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    5. Batana, Yélé & Bussolo, Maurizio & Cockburn, John, 2013. "Global extreme poverty rates for children, adults and the elderly," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 405-407.
    6. Marotta, Daniela & Yemtsov, Ruslan & El-Laithy, Heba & Abou-Ali, Hala & Al-Shawarby, Sherine, 2011. "Was growth in Egypt between 2005 and 2008 pro-poor ? from static to dynamic poverty profile," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5589, The World Bank.
    7. Desire Avom & Fabrizio Carmignani & Abdour Chowdhury, "undated". "Four Scenarios of Poverty Reduction and the Role of Economic Policy," MRG Discussion Paper Series 3109, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    8. Gries, T. & Grundmann, R. & Palnau, I. & Redlin, M., 2015. "Does technological change drive inclusive industrialization? : A review of major concepts and findings," MERIT Working Papers 044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    9. Cielito F. Habito, 2010. "Patterns of Inclusive Growth in Developing Asia: Insights from an Enhanced Growth-Poverty Elasticity Analysis," Working Papers id:3076, eSocialSciences.
    10. Bussolo, Maurizio & De Hoyos, Rafael E. & Medvedev, Denis, 2008. "Is the developing world catching up ? global convergence and national rising dispersion," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4733, The World Bank.
    11. UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, "undated". "Drivers of Inequality in the Context of the Growth-Poverty-Inequality Nexus in Africa: Overview of key issues," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2017-04, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.
    12. Nora Lustig & George Gray-Molina & Sean Higgins & Miguel Jaramillo & Wilson Jiménez & Veronica Paz & Claudiney Pereira & Carola Pessino & John Scott & Ernesto Yañez, 2012. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and Peru: A Synthesis of Results," Working Papers 264, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    13. Dawood MAMOON, 2016. "Integrating the Concepts of Global Freedom: Economics versus Society," Journal of Economic and Social Thought, KSP Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 490-496, December.
    14. Nora Lustig & Jaime Ros, 2011. "Latin America's Economic Challenges: Lessons for Emerging Economies," Working Papers 1112, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    15. Lawrence Haddad, 2015. "Equity: Not Only for Idealists," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 33(1), pages 5-13, January.
    16. Machiko, Nissanke, 2011. "International and Institutional Traps in Sub-Saharan Africa under Globalisation: A Comparative Perspective," CEI Working Paper Series 2011-6, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    17. Shimeles Abebe, 2010. "Working Paper 122 - Welfare Analysis Using Data from the International Comparison Program for Africa," Working Paper Series 259, African Development Bank.

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    Inequality; Achieving Shared Growth; Services&Transfers to Poor; Population Policies; Poverty Impact Evaluation;

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