ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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World Bank’s Poverty Enumeration

A Critical Examination of the Process, Methodology, and Numbers

Amita Majumder ( is with the Economic Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. Ranjan Ray ( is with the Department of Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Sattwik Santra ( is with the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.

The end of the period set out to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals triggered off numerous studies on global poverty. Most notable was the paper by Ferreira et al (2015), which can be considered as the (unofficial) view of the World Bank. We subject this particular paper to critical scrutiny and find that the Bank’s poverty enumeration exercise fails to satisfy the requirements of transparency, denies researchers access to data, and replicability of the poverty numbers produced by the Bank. We have provided evidence of non-robustness of the poverty estimates by using different purchasing power parities. A simpler method for estimating PPPs that avoids the complex and expensive procedure adopted by the World Bank-led International Comparison Program has also been proposed.

The authors are grateful to an anonymous referee for thoughtful remarks on an earlier draft. The authors also thank the ICP division of the World Bank for making available the information on expenditure and prices. The usual disclaimer applies.

Updated On : 16th Jun, 2017


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