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World poverty greater than previously thought
Michael considered fate at 10:58   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
[The World Bank] has revised its previous estimate [of 985 million people] and now says that 1.4 billion people live in poverty, based on a new poverty line of $1.25 per day.
Nevertheless, the footnotes tell an interesting story:
The World Bank's new poverty line of $1.25 per day in 2005 is equivalent to its $1 per day poverty line introduced in 1981 after adjustment for inflation. The new estimates are based on 675 household surveys for 116 countries, based on 1.2 million interviews. The data has also been revised on the basis of new data on inflation and prices from the 2005 ICP survey of world prices, which showed that the cost of living in developing countries was higher than previously thought. It does not take into account the recent increases in fuel and food prices.
Which is to say, who the hell knows what these statistics tell us. If the World Bank can't come up with a meaningful number, or at least explain their process - what the hell does "The new estimates are based on 675 household surveys for 116 countries, based on 1.2 million interviews" mean, anyway?! - then how can we expect our politicians to understand it?

Of course, this is the same World Bank whose economists, caught pen-in-hand in 1991, said:
.. developed countries ought to export more pollution to developing countries because these countries would incur the lowest cost from the pollution in terms of lost wages of people made ill or killed by the pollution due to the fact that wages are so low in developing countries... the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
Impeccable! Thanks Larry Summers.

It all reminds me a bit of Shadow Government Statistics: Analysis Behind and Beyond Government Economic Reporting, which is an interesting look into the deception of government-generated statistics and the importance of oversight by, well, someone - even if that someone is just a website on the innernectors.

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