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Up until early 2020, global poverty had been decreasing, but that progress is now at risk. Bllions of people still do not have the resources they need to survive and thrive. Economic growth can reduce poverty, but it can also drive inequality that generates social and economic problems. And efforts at domestic resource mobilization through taxation, though critical to funding the Sustainable Development Goals, can negatively impact the poor.
In this work, CGD experts offer suggestions to improve how changes in development financing in such a way that they tackle poverty and inequality.
Many existing classifications of developing countries are dominated by income per capita (such as the World Bank’s low, middle and high income thresholds), thus neglecting the multidimensionality of the concept of ‘development’. Even those deemed to be the main ‘alternatives’ to the income-based classification have income per capita heavily weighted within a composite indicator.
On Wednesday, Angus Deaton published an op-ed in the New York Times that paints a compelling picture of the depth of poverty in America, and the need for more money and more policy attention to fix it. It's a sobering read, and we strongly agree that America’s most destitute deserve far more support. But in comparing US poverty to poverty in developing countries, we think he’s got his numbers wrong.
One feature of adjustment loans that has been often overlooked in their evaluation is their frequent repetition to the same country, with such extremes as the 30 IMF and World Bank adjustment loans to Argentina over 1980-99 or the 26 adjustment loans to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Repetition changes the nature of the selection problem, with the possible implication that new loans had to be given because earlier loans were not effective. This study finds that while there were relative successes and failures, none of the top 20 recipients of adjustment lending over 1980-99 were able to achieve reasonable growth and contain all policy distortions. The findings of this paper are in line with the foreign aid literature that shows that aid does not discriminate between good and bad policies. There's a big difference between structural adjustment lending and structural adjustment policies.
In this paper we explore the Palma and corroborate the findings that the middle does indeed hold over time and through various stages of tax and transfers. Further, we find that the Gini is almost completely “explained” by only two points of the distribution: the same income shares which determine the Palma.
Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.
Development progress has traditionally been measured in terms of reductions in poverty and increases in per capita GDP, that is, average income as calculated by dividing total income by the total population. My guests on this week’s Global Prosperity Wonkcast, Nancy Birdsall and Christian Meyer, argue that median income—the income at the middle of a country’s income distribution—is a better measure.