Measuring poverty and communicating poverty reduction results are long-standing priorities for the World Bank. In 2015, we set up a Commission on Global Poverty to provide recommendations on how to measure and monitor global poverty more comprehensively. The Commission provided 21 recommendations. They included broadening the scope of poverty measurements to include non-monetary measures, introducing a societal headcount measure of global poverty, and publishing a global profile of the poor.
The World Bank Group has committed to adopting most of these recommendations. In 2017, we introduced two complementary global poverty lines, which can be used as a benchmark for countries across the world whose level of development makes the International Poverty Line — $2.15 per day — not relevant. The $3.65 and $6.85 per person, per day poverty lines complement, not replace, the International Poverty Line.
In 2018, the World Bank report Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle broadened the ways we define and measure poverty, by:
- Presenting a new measure of societal poverty, integrating the absolute concept of extreme poverty and a notion of relative poverty reflecting needs across countries.
- Introducing a multi-dimensional poverty measure that is anchored on household consumption and the International Poverty Line, but broadens the measure by including information on access to education and utilities.
- Investigating the differences in poverty within households, including by age and gender.
Twice a year, the World Bank Group produces Poverty and Equity Briefs that highlight poverty, shared prosperity, and inequality trends in each country. In September 2019, the country Poverty Briefs also began to report data on multidimensional poverty indicators and progressively increased coverage to 144 countries (which appear in the latest PSPR).
In 2020, COVID-19 posed a new challenge to measuring the impact of the devastating pandemic, particularly on the poor and vulnerable. Surveys based on face-to-face interviews were hindered by social distancing protocols and limitations on mobility. Policy makers needed timely and relevant information on the impacts of the crisis as well as the effectiveness of their policy measures to save lives and support livelihoods. World Bank-supported phone surveys to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on households and individuals were then implemented in 89 countries across all developing regions.
We are also working with country statistical offices to build local capacity and to help nations develop and implement their poverty surveys, as well as assess results.
On monitoring project impacts, the Bank Group has two main tools to improve and measure results in real-time: Survey of Well-being via Instant Frequent Tracking (SWIFT) and Iterative Beneficiary Monitoring (IBM). These tools rely on mobile technology, and big and small data to produce information on specific project results and on consumption/income of project beneficiaries. IBM is currently mainstreamed in [more than 40] operations in FCV and non-FCV contexts. SWIFT plays an important role in linking poverty and sector-specific indicators through affordable data collection and analysis.
Together with our country clients, we are now developing and testing high-frequency survey methods that rely on mobile technology or prediction methods. Working with national statistical offices and non-governmental organizations, our Listening to Africa initiative is piloting the use of mobile phones to regularly collect information on living conditions in [six] African countries.
Official global, regional, and country poverty results are based on data that the World Bank compiles and disseminates through our Poverty and Inequality Platform.
Last Updated: Nov 30, 2022