Has world poverty really fallen during the 1990s?
We evaluate the claim that world consumption poverty has fallen during the 1990s in light of alternative assumptions about the extent of initial poverty and the rate of subsequent poverty reduction in China, India, and the rest of the developing world. We assess the extent of poverty using two indicators: the aggregate poverty headcount and the poverty headcount ratio, and consider two international poverty lines that are widely used ($1.08/day and $2.15/day 1993 PPP). We find that under some of the assumptions considered, world poverty has risen. We conclude that, because of uncertainties in relation to the extent and trend of poverty in China, India, and the rest of the developing world, world poverty may or may not have increased. The extent of the increase or decrease in world poverty is critically dependent on the assumptions made. Our conclusions suggest the importance of improving the quality of global poverty statistics.
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