How did the world's poorest fare in the 1990s?

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Abstract

Drawing on 297 national sample surveys spanning 88 countries, we find that there was a net decrease in the overall incidence of both absolute and relative consumption poverty between 1987 and 1998. But it was not enough to reduce the total number of poor by various definitions. The incidence of absolute poverty fell in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East–North Africa, while it rose in Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe–Central Asia. Over the whole data set, interpersonal distribution improved slightly from the point of view of the poor, due mainly to growth in China.

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