Young impoverished girl with cat.

Las líneas de batalla de la línea de la pobreza

WASHINGTON, DC – Durante mucho tiempo, primero como profesor universitario y luego como jefe de asesores económicos del gobierno indio, fui un feliz usuario de los datos que el Banco Mundial publica sobre la pobreza global, para seguimiento de tendencias y análisis comparativo entre países. Rara vez me detenía a pensar en cómo se calculan esas cifras. Hace tres años entré como economista principal al Banco Mundial. Fue como si a un cliente, después de años de ordenar la cena en su restorán favorito, un buen día lo invitaran a ir a la cocina y preparar la comida.

La medición de la pobreza es todo un desafío para el Banco Mundial. Si la pobreza disminuye, los críticos nos acusan de querer mostrar nuestro éxito. Si aumenta, dicen que tratamos de proteger nuestra fuente de trabajo. Y si se mantiene igual, nos acusan de querer evitar las otras dos acusaciones.

Felizmente, hay algo de liberador en saber que a uno lo van a criticar pase lo que pase. Sin embargo, cuando nuestro equipo se disponía a definir la línea global de pobreza para este año (de la que depende la incidencia de la pobreza), yo era muy consciente de la advertencia dada por Angus Deaton, premio Nobel de Economía 2015: “No estoy seguro de que sea buena idea que el Banco Mundial se comprometa tanto con este proyecto”.

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