A new IDS report says that 72% of the world’s poorest 1 billion people live in (so-called) middle income countries … a huge change from 20 years ago when > 90% of the world’s poor lived in low-income countries. Low-income countries are defined by the World Bank’s definition of < $995 per person GDP (which is itself pretty arbitrary).
Here’s another way of looking at countries in rank order of their poor populations by middle and low income countries:
Below is an interesting podcast discussion where Paul Collier (see my review on his book, The Bottom Billion) and Andy Sumner share their dramatically different interpretations of this new data.
Paul Collier key points:
- If you ask the wrong question, you’re bound to get the wrong answer — by focusing on measuring poverty simply by looking at people’s daily income today is a reductionist (and unhelpful) way of measuring poverty
- A better way to look at poverty and where the international community should consider intervention is where you’ve got both current poverty with lack of a credible opportunity for the future
- Countries like Nigeria shouldn’t be considered middle income just because they have oil while few of their populace participates in this wealth … it needs help in economic governance to change its course
- We should seriously reconsider whether to provide further aid to middle income countries who continue on a growth trajectory as in a generation they will likely have very few poor (assuming they deal with income redistribution which is largely a domestic issue)
Andy Sumner key point: We should start looking at allocating aid based on where the poor live, not just to low-income countries.