‘We estimate the World Distribution of Income (WDI) by integrating individual income distributions for 138 countries between 1970 and 2000. Country distributions are constructed by combining national accounts GDP per capita to anchor the mean with survey data to pin down the dispersion. Poverty rates and head counts are reported for four specific poverty lines. Rates in 2000 wereThe overall reduction hides uneven performance across regions. East and South East Asia account for a large fraction of the success. Poverty rates and numbers have worsened in Africa across the last three decades. Poverty was an Asian problem 30 years ago but is primarily an African problem these days.
between one-third and one-half of what they were in 1970 for all four lines. There were between 250 and 500 million fewer poor in 2000 than in 1970. We estimate eight indexes of income inequality implied by our WDI. All of them show reductions in global inequality during the 1980s and 1990s’.
The overall improvement is encouraging. One of the UN’s Millenium Project Development Goals was to halve by 2015 the fraction of people in 1990 who lived on less than $1US per day. In 1990 about 10% of the world’s population lived on less than $1US per day. The target will be met when the fraction is 5%. By 2000 the figure was 6.3% so 69% of the target has been met. Africa remains a key problem but wrong to be overly pessimistic – there was pressimism, on prospects of Asian countries 30 years ago. Jeffrey Sach’s believes directed international aid campaigns will work in Africa.