Tuesday, 7 December 1999

From "Globalization, Growth and Distribution: Framing the Questions"

By Ravi Kanbur, p. 10.

Consider an economy in which the incidence of poverty—the fraction of population below the poverty line—has been falling at 1 percentage point per annum. This is a pretty good rate of decline, especially for an African country. At this rate, depending on the initial level of poverty, an economy would be well on track for achieving the first Millennium Development Goal, on reduction of the incidence of income poverty. But suppose that population growth in this economy is 2 percentage points per annum. In this case, although the fraction of poor population is falling at 1 percentage point per annum, the absolute number of the poor is rising at 1 percentage point per annum. For an NGO working with the poor on the ground, the soup kitchens are fuller than ever, there are more street children than ever, there are more distressed farmers than ever—and yet the official statistics seem to proclaim a reduction in poverty.

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