Comment on South Africa Indymedia website

by Matt Berkley Saturday August 31, 2002 at 11:00 AM

Questioning poverty reduction

Why are governments emphasising poverty reduction when
a) it is already far ahead of other goals,
b) it may be telling us about deaths rather than raised incomes, so
c) it doesn't tell us how many people rise out of poverty, and
d) it is only affected by raised incomes for a few per cent of poor each year, and
e) these people may be from the 300 well-nourished among the 1100 who have less than a dollar a day, so
d) it tells us nothing about income gains or losses for the majority of poor people?

Child mortality statistics are technically more reliable than income and nutrition statistics.
And if children live longer, this usually means people in the family are eating more.

So I suggest:

1) Balanced progress on the Millennium Goals helps the poor, but more poverty reduction is of unknown positive or negative value to the poor.

2) Child mortality statistcs may well tell us something about economic gains to the poor.

Economic growth statistics, and quintile statistics, do not either - unless we know the differences in averages were not due to different death rates. If the poorest live longer, average income in the theoretical "poorest fifth" will, other things being equal, go down.


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