The debate on globalization, poverty and inequality: why measurement matters

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Martin Ravallion
Development Research Group, World Bank
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Washington, D.C.

Provides a non-technical overview of the conceptual and methodological issues underlying the markedly different claims that have been heard within the development community about how just much progress is being made against poverty and inequality in the current period of “globalization.” Argues that the dramatically differing positions taken in this debate often stem from differences in the concepts and definitions used and differences in data sources and measurement assumptions, differences that are often hidden from view in the debate, but that need to be considered carefully if one is to properly interpret the evidence. Also argues that the best available evidence suggests that, if the rate of progress against absolute poverty in the developing world in the 1990s is maintained, then the Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 aggregate poverty rate by 2015 will be achieved on time in the aggregate, though not in all regions. Concludes with some observations on the implications for policy-oriented debates on globalization and pro-poor growth.

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World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3038