Commission on Global Poverty: Share Your Ideas on Measuring Extreme Poverty

In 2013, the World Bank Group announced two goals that would guide its development work worldwide. The first is the eradication of chronic extreme poverty. More formally, it is the target of bringing the number of extremely poor people, defined as those living on less than 1.25 ppp-adjusted dollars a day, to less than 3% of the world population by 2030. The second is the boosting of shared prosperity, defined as promoting the growth of per capita real income of the poorest 40% of the population in each country. While we have begun to track these indicators, in the light of the UN’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and the changing landscape of the world, we are aware that there will be many new challenges that we will have to contend with over the next decade and a half. To help us deal with these better, I, in my capacity as Chief Economist of the World Bank, have just set up a Commission on Global Poverty chaired by Sir Anthony Atkinson and with an advisory board consisting of some of the world’s leading experts in the field. 

While the Commission’s report will be written by Professor Atkinson, advised by experts, we felt a need to crowd source ideas. If you have one or more ideas please write to us in the space provided below. This is not meant to be an interactive web page; and so you will not get any reply from us but if you give your email address and members of the Commission feel the need to contact you, they may do so. A new set of questions will be introduced every two weeks so please continue to check this site in order to contribute to the conversation. This page will be available for comments till November 30, 2015.

Chief Economist
The World Bank


Questions: September 28, 2015

1. In measuring poverty, is it enough to look at people’s incomes and consumption measured by some money metric?

2. Should we track poverty on other dimensions? If so, which and how?

Questions: October 12, 2015

3. How can we make sure the poverty measures realistically reflect that people living in poverty may face different prices or different access to education, health care and public goods?  What adjustments to the measures do you think may be necessary?

4. Should the yardstick be held constant, not in terms of money, but of functioning, calorie needs, or other ultimate objectives?

Questions: October 26, 2015

5. In addition to the poverty headcount, should we measure the change in the living standards of the bottom (say) 20 per cent of the world’s population? If so, why would you find such information useful?

6. Does relative deprivation matter or should our aim be to measure it by some absolute yardstick? Why might you be interested in relative deprivation?

Questions: November 9, 2015

7. Besides the set of commonly used poverty measures like poverty headcount and poverty gap, should we also include measures of persistent poverty and precariousness, and, if so, how should they be measured?  In your view, do you think the nature of poverty, whether it’s temporary or persistent, and the vulnerability of the non-poor falling into poverty are important and how can they be measured?

8. If we track several dimensions of poverty, in addition to money metrics, should they be combined in a multi-dimensional poverty indicator?  What may be some dimensions to consider and how would you suggest combining them?

Sir Anthony Atkinson, Chair of the Commission on Global Poverty, Moderator.

Sir Anthony Atkinson is Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was previously Warden of the College. He has been President of the Royal Economic Society, of the Econometric Society, of the European Economic Association, of the International Economic Association, and of the Human Development and Capability Association. He is an Honorary Member of the American Economic Association. He has served in the UK on the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth, the Pension Law Review Committee, and the Commission on Social Justice. He has been a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, advising the French Prime Minister. He is a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He is the author of Unequal Shares, The Economics of Inequality, Poverty and Social Security, Public Economics in Action, Incomes and the Welfare State, Poverty in Europe, The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State, Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion (with B Cantillon, E Marlier and B Nolan), The Changing Distribution of Earnings in OECD Countries, Public Economics in an Age of Austerity, and Inequality: What Can be Done? which was recently published.

Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank Group, Moderator.

Kaushik Basu became Senior Vice President for Development Economics and World Bank Chief Economist on October 1, 2012. Prior to that, he was Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India. He is on leave from his position as Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University.

He has served as Chairman of Cornell’s Department of Economics and has also directed the university's Center for Analytic Economics and headed the Program for Comparative Economic Development. Earlier Mr. Basu was Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics. In 1992 he founded the Centre for Development Economics in Delhi and was its first Executive Director. He is also a founding member of the Madras School of Economics. Mr. Basu has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the London School of Economics, where he was Distinguished Visitor in 1993. He has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, Princeton University and M.I.T. He holds a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics. Mr. Basu is has received many economics awards in India and has held advisory posts with the ILO, the World Bank, the Reserve Bank of India. He is Editor of the journal Social Choice and Welfare, and served or serves on numerous Editorial Boards, including the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Public Economics, and the World Bank Economic Review.

Mr. Basu’s contributions to economics span development economics, welfare economics, industrial organization and public economics. He has published widely and his most recent books are Beyond the Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics published by Princeton University Press and Penguin, and An Economist’s Miscellany, published by Oxford University Press. He is the second World Bank Chief Economist from a developing country.

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