Tuesday, 28 June 2011

POVERTY: World Poverty Measurements Misleading

Friday, June 17, 2011 : Inter Press Service

In 2004, the World Bank stated that just under 1,0 billion people were living in poverty, only to later claim in 2005 that the number was close to 1.4 billion, Dr.Jomo Kwame Sundaram explained to his audience here.
His new book 'Poor Poverty' points out that poverty measurement results from different sources are producing very different results. There are even irregularities within individual sources. Without truly accurate analysis, poverty reduction becomes even more complicated.
The new release also discusses what Dr. Sundaram described as, 'silver bullets.' Micro credit, land ownership and good governance all fell under this term as attempts for easier solutions to poverty. Although Dr. Sundaram went on to say that 'Poor Poverty' 'does not have a single, unique solution to the problem, different countries require different solutions.'
This was explained at a panel discussion that took place Wednesday to mark the book launch of 'Poor Poverty: The impoverishment of analysis, measurement and policies.' The event was organized by the UN Academic Impact in collaboration with the UN bookshop. The book’s editors, Dr. Sundaram and Dr. Anis Chowdhury were on the panel, along with Professor Julian May of University of KwaZulu-Natal, who was linked by video-conference from South Africa.
An additional theme the book discusses is the idea of universalism. It was explained at the debate, that a universal approach to poverty reduction rather than targeting the most poor for help is more efficient and hence, effective.
Universalism, such as free primary education appears less like charity and is fairer to the country involved. Targeting the neediest is expensive and these people are often accidently overlooked nonetheless.
The editors also covered the books beliefs on aid. Dr. Sundaram pointed out that 'Aid is not always the best solution because governments in the nations involved don’t always decide how it is used.' What these countries need is fiscal space to be able to tackle their problems. According to Dr. Chowdhury, 'these nations aren’t able to freely do this due to this due to the fiscal and debt crisis of the 1980’s.'
Professor May in South Africa compared the work to Dr.Banerjee and Dr.Duflo’s book 'Poor Economics' in that they both criticize the ineffective shortcuts to poverty reduction. However he stated that he found that 'Poor Poverty' offered more hope for the future if it’s suggestions are taken on board.

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