Arnold Kling  

Poor Vs. Ultra-Poor

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The International Food Policy Institute reports,

the ultra poor are overwhelmingly concentrated in one region—Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than three-quarters of the world’s ultra poor. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region in the world in which there are more ultra poor than medial or subjacent poor. In contrast, most of Asia’s poor live just below the dollar-a-day line; only a small minority of the population is ultra poor.

What they have done is sub-divide those living on less than $1 a day into those earning $.75 to $1 (the subadjacent poor), those earning from $.50 to $.75 (the medial poor) and those living on less than $.50 a day (the ultra poor).

One take-away from the report is that the relatively encouraging reduction in world poverty that has taken place in the past 15 years may not continue.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Paul writes:

I haven't actually read the report all the way through, but I skimmed it and I have to say (and this is a failing, in my opinion, in the way this kind of study in general is reported), I'd really like to see these numbers given in international dollars. No one could live on $1 a day international dollars, and so to give a number based on currency exchange rates is almost disingenuous. It's probably taken into account in the actual study, but it isn't obvious from the data that I saw that differences in PPP exchange rate wouldn't account for the high degree of regional concentration of the ultra-poor. I'm sure that average salary of blue-collar/service workers in New York City is higher than in Peoria, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you will see fewer of the symptoms of poverty in New York than in Peoria.

Again, I haven't read the whole study and it's quite possible that these values were normalized to each other, but international dollars were invented for just such a purpose.

spencer writes:

As someone who has done serious work on the data in poor countries trying to find a significant difference between countries where the daily income is $1.00 and $0.75 is a fools game. As far as I know I was the first person to ever estimate the GDP of Afghanistan.

Pick your Sub-Saharan country and compare it to Afghanistan and make a serious argument that you have any idea which one is poorer.

TGGP writes:

spencer, I'm curious about your work. How did you come to do it? Could you link to it?

zc writes:

What a ridiculous academic excercise. I'm sure the subadjacent poor sit around and scoff about how low class the ultra-poor are, and how sweet their lives are. Are you kidding me...all of these people live in primitive, awful conditions. Wy don't you go help them out doing something useful instead of doing 'research' showing that "Damn, there sure are a lot of really poor people." I could be shown pictures of any of their residences and say, "Yep, these people are really freaking poor, and live in crap countries," not needing some 148 page glossy print to understand that. Save the money on printing and give someone $5000 times their annual income.

John Fast writes:

Arnold: Speaking as a fellow "bleeding-heart libertarian," do you think we ought to implement some sort of global version of the Negative Income Tax, perhaps set to about $1000 per year? That is approximately $3 per day.

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