In 1979, World Bank President Robert McNamara was shocked to see that data on poverty and inequality were only available for 17 developing countries. In response, McNamara pushed the Bank to become a leader in the collection, collation, and analysis of these data. With the creation of the “dollar-a-day” international poverty line in the 1990 World Development Report, the Bank established itself as the global standard setter for poverty measurement. In 2016, the Bank convened the Atkinson Commission on Global Poverty to ensure its approach continued to reflect the best available expertise on the issue.
But the Bank’s approach has not been without critics. Given the difficult methodological questions and the large stakes involved, scholars and practitioners have a variety of views on how global poverty should be measured. Join us for a lively debate on this question on March 5, where Francisco Ferreira, who oversees the poverty and inequality team in the Development Research Group, will engage with Professor Sanjay Reddy, one of the most prominent and vocal external critics of the Bank’s approach.