Measuring Global Poverty: Past, Present, and Future
November 30, 2015Inclusion and Shared Prosperity

World Bank researchers have been trying to assess the extent of extreme poverty in the world since 1979. Two ingredients have always been key to these endeavors: an international absolute poverty line, derived from national lines used in some of the world’s poorest countries, and purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates used to compare the cost of living across countries. Periodic revisions in PPP exchange rates have typically led to changes in the poverty line, and consequently in our global poverty estimates.

In this talk Francisco Ferreira will review our experience with global poverty measurement so far. He will focus in particular on the most recent poverty update, which incorporated the 2011 PPP data released last year. The latest PPP update led to a substantial re-assessment of relative purchasing powers around the world, and hence to a large nominal change in the poverty line: from $1.25 to $1.90/day. He will review the principles, practices, and pitfalls involved in the latest update, and then discuss some of the ideas being floated for the future of global poverty measurement at the World Bank.

Please note this event was rescheduled to November 30 from its originally scheduled date of November 10.

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2015

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    Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Senior Adviser, Research Department

    Francisco H. G. Ferreira is a Senior Adviser in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, where he oversees the Bank’s research programs on poverty, inequality and agriculture. He was formerly the Bank’s Chief Economist for the Africa Region, and has also served as Deputy Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, and as co-Director of the World Development Report 2006, on Equity and Development. Francisco is also a non-resident Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA, Bonn), and has published widely in the fields of poverty and inequality in developing countries. He was awarded the Haralambos Simeonides and the Adriano Romariz Duarte Prizes by the Brazilian Economic and Econometric Societies respectively, and the Kendricks Prize by the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth. Francisco serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic Inequality (where he was previously Editor in Chief), the Review of Income and Wealth, and the World Bank Economic Review. Francisco has taught at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Paris School of Economics. He was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics.
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    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Director of Research

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Director of Research in the World Bank. After joining the Bank in 1989 as a Young Economist, she has held different positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.
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    Jan Walliser, Vice President, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions Global Practice at the World Bank

    Jan Walliser is the Vice President for the World Bank's Global Practices covering Finance & Markets, Governance, Macroeconomics & Fiscal Management, Poverty, and Trade & Competitiveness since July 1, 2015. In his current role, Jan is charged with ensuring high-quality lending, analytical and advisory services aligned with country demand and in collaboration with regional teams. Prior to his current appointment, he was Director of Strategy and Operations in the Bank’s Africa Region supporting the Regional Vice President in providing strategic leadership and operational guidance to staff working on 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as lending to the region increased to more than $10 billion annually. Previously, he managed a team of economists working on Nigeria and countries in central and western Africa, which advised governments on macroeconomic policies and supported debt relief for several fragile states. He also provided advice to staff and senior management on issues related to budget support, aid effectiveness and conditionality in one of the World Bank’s central units during 2004-08. Before joining the World Bank in 2002, Jan was an economist at the International Monetary Fund and a Principal Analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office where he focused on the analysis of pension reform and tax reform. Jan has published in a range of professional economic journals on intergenerational aspects of fiscal policy, tax reform, pension reform, and aid effectiveness. He received a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University in 1998 and a Diplom-Volkswirt degree from Kiel University, Germany, in 1993. A German national, he speaks German, English, and French.

The Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the research department and their implications for World Bank operations. The goal of the monthly event is to facilitate a dialogue between researchers and operational staff, so that we can challenge and contribute to the World Bank's intellectual climate and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practices.  Read More »

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