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Rethinking Poverty Reduction

NEW YORK – Last year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that the number of hungry people in the world increased over the last decade.   In 2008, the World Bank announced a significant decline in the number of poor people up to the year 2005. But if poverty is defined principally in terms of the money income needed to avoid hunger, how can announcements such as these be reconciled?

According to the World Bank’s much cited “dollar-a-day” international poverty line, which was revised in 2008 to $1.25 a day in 2005 prices, there are still 1.4 billion people living in poverty, down from 1.9 billion in 1981. However, as China has accounted for most of this decline, there were at least 100 million more people living in poverty outside China in 2005 than in 1981.