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

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, from people who may or may not be engaged in academic work on the subject but may have suggestions for the Commission concerning the questions in the above paragraph.

So if you have one or more ideas please write to us in the space provided below. Our plan is to have all ideas that are clearly written and bear on these questions to be made available to everyone to read and in particular for the members of the Commission to read, consider, and in some cases put to use.

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.

Chief Economist
The World Bank

This page will be available for comments till November 30, 2015.


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?