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  • Measurement and Analysis of Poverty x
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Surjit Bhalla, Karan Bhasin, and Mr. Arvind Virmani
The paper presents estimates of poverty [extreme poverty PPP$1.9 and PPP$3.2] and consumption inequality in India for each of the years 2004-5 through the pandemic year 2020-21. These estimates include, for the first time, the effect of in-kind food subsides on poverty and inequality. Extreme poverty was as low as 0.8 percent in the pre-pandemic year 2019, and food transfers were instrumental in ensuring that it remained at that low level in pandemic year 2020. Post-food subsidy inequality at .294 is now very close to its lowest level 0.284 observed in 1993/94.
Katharina Bergant, Miss Anke Weber, and Andrea Medici
Using micro-data from household expenditure surveys, we document the evolution of consumption poverty in the United States over the last four decades. Employing a price index that appears appropriate for low income households, we show that poverty has not declined materially since the 1980s and even increased for the young. We then analyze which social and economic factors help explain the extent of poverty in the U.S. using probit, tobit, and machine learning techniques. Our results are threefold. First, we identify the poor as more likely to be minorities, without a college education, never married, and living in the Midwest. Second, the importance of some factors, such as race and ethnicity, for determining poverty has declined over the last decades but they remain significant. Third, we find that social and economic factors can only partially capture the likelihood of being poor, pointing to the possibility that random factors (“bad luck”) could play a significant role.
Ms. Valerie Cerra, Mr. Ruy Lama, and Norman Loayza
Is there a tradeoff between raising growth and reducing inequality and poverty? This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the complex links between growth, inequality, and poverty, with causation going in both directions. The evidence suggests that growth can be effective in reducing poverty, but its impact on inequality is ambiguous and depends on the underlying sources of growth. The impact of poverty and inequality on growth is likewise ambiguous, as several channels mediate the relationship. But most plausible mechanisms suggest that poverty and inequality reduce growth, at least in the long run. Policies play a role in shaping these relationships and those designed to improve equality of opportunity can simultaneously improve inclusiveness and growth.
Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert
Absolute poverty has dropped markedly in Bulgaria but income inequality has increased substantially in the aftermath of the GFC. This increase is due to a rise in market income inequality that was compounded by a reduction in fiscal redistribution. The redistributive role of direct taxation has declined with the introduction of a flat tax and social spending is relatively low and decreasing (as a share of GDP), is concentrated on a few social risks, and experienced a decline in its redistributive efficiency. The COVID-19 crisis is likely to deepen income inequality, increasing the room for redistributive policies.
Mr. Alexei P Kireyev and Andrei Leonidov
Inclusive growth, narrowly defined in this paper as growth that helps reduce inequality, is achieved if consumption of the poor increases faster than consumption of the rich. The paper presents a simple accounting framework for a per-percentile consumption diagnostics that could inform redistribution policies. The proposed framework is illustrated in application to Iraq and Tunisia.
Mr. Martin Cihak and Ms. Ratna Sahay
The study examines empirical relationships between income inequality and three features of finance: depth (financial sector size relative to the economy), inclusion (access to and use of financial services by individuals and firms), and stability (absence of financial distress). Using new data covering a wide range of countries, the analysis finds that the financial sector can play a role in reducing inequality, complementing redistributive fiscal policy. By expanding the provision of financial services to low-income households and small businesses, it can serve as a powerful lever in helping create a more inclusive society but—if not well managed—it can amplify inequalities.