The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper provides estimates of global relative poverty trends from 1970 onwards. Relative poverty is shown to have decreased significantly, but at the same time there has been a worsening poverty outcome among up to one billion of the world's poorest citizens. The paper also proposes a straightforward method for dividing an income distribution into classes of poor, rich, and middle-class.