World Bank should think carefully about how it defines and targets poverty, Alkire says

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire has called for the World Bank to think carefully about how it defines and targets poverty, in an article on the strategy set out by the bank’s new president, Jim Yong Kim.

Kim has voiced his desire to end poverty and build a ‘solutions bank’, but has not yet set targets or given details on how the bank will go about this. In an article by the Bretton Woods Project, a watchdog which scrutinises the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Alkire welcomed Kim’s determination to end absolute poverty, but expressed her concern about other aspects of poverty that are missed by a focus on income.

“I’m hoping that the World Bank will think carefully about how it defines and targets poverty, so that its measures support seamless work towards eradicating deprivations in education, health, nutrition, assets, services and livelihoods, as well as in income,” she said.

The article, ‘Kim’s World Bank strategy: real change or “PR exercise”?’, refers to the emerging data from countries around the world which were the focus of the workshop held last month by OPHI and the University of Göttingen, entitled ‘Dynamic Comparison between Multidimensional Poverty and Monetary Poverty’.

“For each country, we compared multidimensional poverty with monetary poverty using the same dataset,” Alkire explained.

“When the multidimensional measure did not include income as an indicator, 40 per cent to 80 per cent of multidimensionally poor people were not identified as income poor (the headcounts of poor persons matched for both income and multidimensional poverty). When each measure focused on the poorest of the poor, the mismatch between definitions of poverty was higher.

“This mismatch needs to be explored as the World Bank considers what targets to set itself to best achieve its goal of ending poverty.” Read more.