ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

PovertySubscribe to Poverty

Crying Wolf on Poverty

One of the most important development goals is the reduction in absolute poverty to 15 per cent by 2015. This and related development goals have been agreed upon by governments and the UN system, and have been labelled the Millennium Development Goals. In my recently published book, Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality and Growth in the Era of Globalisation, I had documented how the poverty reduction goal had already been reached by 2000, the very year of formulation of the goals for 2015. In a critique of my study, World Bank as well as its main poverty analyst, Martin Ravallion, question the authenticity of the data, assumptions and methods used by Imagine. In fact, data and definitions account for an insignificant amount of the difference in the poverty estimates of World Bank and Imagine. The major explanation for the higher World Bank poverty rates is found to be due to a lower growth estimate of per capita expenditures, and especially lower compared to the growth estimate obtained from national accounts data. This lower growth, 10.4 per cent over 11 years, 1987-1998, is based on household survey means (World Bank data). An associated, and surprising, finding is that while poverty estimates are accurately reproduced, there is a big divergence between the published growth rate of 10.4 per cent and the 'reproduced' survey growth of 5.6 per cent. Notwithstanding this major uncertainty about the World Bank data or its growth and poverty results, all the major findings of Imagine are faithfully reproduced exclusively using only World Bank data. Further, an extension of the World Bank poverty measurement method also yields the result that the MDG poverty reduction goal has been reached. Finally, using the recently released 1996 PPP data, poverty in 2000 was below 15 per cent for all methods, including the flawed World Bank poverty measurement method.

Taxation and Poverty Eradication

Development, Poverty and Fiscal Policy: Decentralisation of Institutions edited by M Govinda Rao; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002; pp xvi+358, Rs 595 .

Karnataka : Incidence of Agricultural Power Subsidies

Who benefits from the large electricity subsidy provided to farmers in Karnataka? This note looks at the distribution of the annual subsidy, finding it to be quite inequitable. By far the largest beneficiaries are medium and large farmers and the great majority of the rural population receive no benefits at all.

Poverty in India in the 1990s

The authors examine the poverty situation in 15 major states across four distinct dimensions of headcount ratio, size of the poor population, depth and severity for the rural, the urban and the total population. The poverty situation, they find, worsened over the six-year period 1993-94 to 1999-2000 in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the remaining 12 states there was a distinct improvement in terms of the most visible indicator, namely, the absolute size of the poor population. Overall, despite diversity across poverty indicators and across states, the overwhelming impression is one of greater improvement in the poverty situation in the 1990s than in the previous 10�½-year period.

Have We Already Met the Millennium Development Goal for Poverty?

In a new book, Surjit Bhalla purports to overturn prevailing views on how much progress the developing world has been making against absolute poverty. Indeed, Bhalla claims that by 2000 we had already met the Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 incidence of extreme poverty - 15 years ahead of time. This would be good news, if it was right. The article offers a critical assessment of Bhalla's arguments and evidence.

Poverty and Inequality in India

This paper presents a new set of integrated poverty and inequality estimates for India and Indian states for 1987-88, 1993-94 and 1999-2000. The poverty estimates are broadly consistent with independent evidence on per capita expenditure, state domestic product and real agricultural wages. They show that poverty decline in the 1990s proceeded more or less in line with earlier trends. Regional disparities increased in the 1990s, with the southern and western regions doing much better than the northern and eastern regions. Economic inequality also increased within states, especially within urban areas, and between urban and rural areas. We briefly examine other development indicators, relating for instance to health and education. Most indicators have continued to improve in the nineties, but social progress has followed very diverse patterns, ranging from accelerated progress in some fields to slow down and even regression in others. We find no support for sweeping claims that the nineties have been a period of 'unprecedented improvement' or 'widespread impoverishment'.

Economic Programmes and Poverty Reduction

This paper analyses the impact of the economic programmes of SHARE, an NGO in Tamil Nadu, on poverty reduction, with the help of data collected from the households of 84 women members. The economic programmes contributed to savings and income increase for the women. However, the member group was not found to be significantly different from the comparison group in terms of control over income and decision-making.

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