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The good news and bad news on global poverty

The Brookings Institution could do with a web make-over. This report “Two Trends in Global Poverty” looks pretty academic and dull, but I think it is well worth reading.

It starts with the good news:

We are living through a period of rapid global poverty reduction. According to recent estimates, high, sustained growth across most of the developing world has helped nearly half a billion people escape $1.25-a-day poverty between 2005 and 2010. Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period.

More poor amid plenty

At the same time, say authors Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz, the proportion of poor people living in middle-income countries and “fragile states” is increasing.

Both trends – and their intersection – present important new questions for how the international community tackles global poverty reduction.

Basically, say the Brookings analysts, the poverty landscape is changing and is more complex than it might appear. Even as more countries become middle-income, they say, more of these same countries — like Nigeria, Pakistan — are also becoming increasingly unstable and inequitable within their borders.

Efforts to reduce poverty must take this new reality into account, say Chandy and Gertz, moving away from designing poverty reduction efforts based on “poor countries” and focusing more on how to attack poverty within unstable middle-income states. This, they say, will require political solutions as well as technical solutions.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.