In April 2013, the World Bank Group set two new goals: ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity in a sustainable way. The first goal, to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation, includes a target to decrease the global extreme poverty rate to no more than 3 percent by 2030. This is possible but challenging, and galvanizing efforts to fight against extreme poverty is critical as many low income countries and most fragile and conflict-affected states will be unable to meet this target.
The second goal, to promote shared prosperity in every country, is measured by the growth in income among the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution in each country. This goal helps the World Bank Group focus on the welfare of the less well-off wherever they are, and includes a strong emphasis on tackling persistent inequalities that keep people in poverty from generation to generation. The following themes form the core of the Bank’s poverty work today:
Measuring Poverty: It is essential to understand which poverty reduction strategies work, and which do not, in order to create better policies to reach the poor and most vulnerable in each country. Poverty measurement helps client governments gauge program effectiveness and guide their development strategies in a rapidly changing economic environment. Much of the World Bank’s work in this area centers on improving household surveys and survey methodology to generate more reliable statistics. We are working to develop new, shorter surveys and innovative high-frequency survey methods to help fill in gaps between traditional surveys and allow for more responsive policymaking.
Inequality and shared prosperity: Concerns about high or growing gaps in incomes are rising. And despite progress, differences in access to education, health services, basic infrastructure and job opportunities are still an urgent development challenge. Birthplace, gender and parents continue to determine what opportunities many people have in life. Our World Bank teams work with client countries to map out trends in inequality and to examine how public policies can level the playing field.
Evidence-based public policy: A growing number of our client governments want to develop monitoring and evaluation systems to track whether policies are benefiting the poor as intended and public resources are being used well. We are working to improve the capacity of national statistical offices and other government agencies for data collection and analysis, developing national monitoring and evaluation systems, and sharing cutting-edge research on evaluation methodologies and tools in order to improve government systems and accountability.
Jobs and poverty: More and better job opportunities provide the most powerful way out poverty. The World Bank works with client countries to help provide better access to the labor market to poor and vulnerable populations. We support employment training initiatives, credit services, and small business development initiatives, and work with clients to reform and strengthen labor protection laws. Research and analytical work on labor market developments, wage inequality, job creation strategies, and much more underpins the projects we undertake with our clients.
Shocks and vulnerabilities: When food prices rise, a natural disaster occurs or the world economy declines, poor people tend to suffer the most. Our World Bank teams explore how climate change-related weather events affect human welfare, and what coping mechanisms and public policies help vulnerable populations deal with shocks. They also monitor international and domestic food prices and their potential impact on poverty.