Young impoverished girl with cat.

La controversa misura della povertà

WASHINGTON, DC – Per molto tempo, prima come docente universitario poi come capo consigliere economico del governo indiano, ho utilizzato i dati sulla povertà globale forniti dalla Banca mondiale per individuare trend e analizzare comparativamente i modelli vigenti nei vari paesi. Raramente, però, mi sono soffermato a pensare a come questi dati venissero calcolati. Pertanto, quando tre anni fa sono diventato capo economista della Banca mondiale, mi sono sentito come un cliente abituato a ordinare la cena nel suo ristorante preferito al quale, all’improvviso, viene chiesto di andare in cucina a prepararla.

Misurare la povertà è un’autentica sfida per la Banca mondiale. Se la povertà diminuisce, i detrattori ci accusano di voler sbandierare i nostri successi. Se, invece, aumenta, gli stessi dicono che così ci assicuriamo il lavoro. E se, infine, si mantiene costante, ci accusano di voler evitare entrambe le accuse precedenti.

Fortunatamente, sapere che si verrà criticati a prescindere dal risultato è in un certo senso liberatorio. Pur così, quando quest’anno il nostro team ha cominciato a misurare la soglia di povertà globale (e, di conseguenza, l’incidenza della povertà), avevo ben presente l’avvertimento di Angus Deaton, ultimo vincitore del Nobel per l’economia: “Non sono sicuro che sia saggio per la Banca mondiale impegnarsi così tanto in questo progetto”.

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