What do national poverty lines tell us about global poverty?

This paper offers a new perspective on global poverty. It does so by estimating the distribution of poverty across countries, regions and income categories based on national poverty lines (NPLs). Even though comparing NPLs across countries means comparing poverty lines of different monetary value, we argue that exploring “poverty” as a nationally defined concept by countries at different stages of development unveils important and often unnoticed findings. By addressing the question of poverty as defined where those poor people live, this paper seeks to offer a new perspective on global poverty and at the same time extend thinking on the “middle-income countries poverty paradox” – meaning that most of the world’s poor do not live in the world’s poorest countries.

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