Panel Meeting on
Global Poverty Measures and
International Poverty Comparison
New York, Tuesday 3 February 2004 – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
UN Secretariat Building, Conference room 5
the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) of the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General, DESA
Willem de Vries, Officer in Charge, UNSD
The panel will be comprised of distinguished professors and reputable
Jonathan Morduch, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics,
His research focuses on poverty and inequality, and has developed tools
for measuring vulnerability, decomposing inequality, and relating poverty
reduction to growth processes.
Prof. Morduch is Chair of the Steering Committee that oversees the UN
project on poverty statistics.
Sanjay Reddy, Assistant Professor of Economics, Columbia University.
His areas of work include development economics, international economics,
economics and philosophy, and economics and social theory. Prof. Reddy
has co-authored with Dr. Thomas Pogge, Associate Professor in Philosophy
at Columbia University, the paper “How Not to Count the Poor”.
Michael Ward, former Principal Economist of the World Bank. Dr. Ward
is presently an International Consultant at IMF and for the UN Intellectual
History Project. He is also member of the Statistical Advisory Panel for
the UNDP Human Development Report.
Ivo Havinga is Chief of the Economic Statistics Branch at the United
Nations Statistics Division
His areas of work include national accounting, international trade in
services, international economic and social classifications and environmental
For further information, please contact:
Gisele Kamanou, Office of the Director, UNSD
Tel: 212- 963 4328
The Statistics Division has recently launched a project to prepare a
handbook on Poverty Statistics: Concepts, Methods and Policy Use. The
purpose of the handbook will be to assist countries in designing and implementing
a system of poverty measurements that satisfy at the same time their national
policy needs as well as the increasing international demand for poverty
statistics and related data. A steering committee on poverty statistics
consisting of 10 eminent experts has been established to guide the process
of the preparation of the handbook. Further background information can
be found at the project website at http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/poverty/default.htm.
The problem of monitoring global poverty, in particular, is one of the
most crucial development issues facing international policy makers. At
present, the “dollar per day” measure is the key indicator
for monitoring global poverty and its change over time. However, the current
debate on global poverty has raised some fundamental questions regarding
the first Millennium Development Goals target, that is, halving the number
of people living under one dollar per day. For example, one important
question that has been raised by countries, is to understand the links
between national and global poverty estimates.
The problems are methodological as well as statistical and both are intricately
linked. It is hoped that your discussion will help to explore possible
intermediate solutions to the technical limitations of the current international
poverty measures. In particular, I would like to invite you to react to
two proposed specific alternatives to the current approach to international
poverty comparisons namely, poverty-specific PPP’s and a harmonized
approach to measuring household consumption expenditures from household
survey and national accounts.
UNSD has organized this panel discussion on Global Poverty measures and
International Poverty Comparison in order to explore possible intermediate
solutions to the technical limitations of the current international poverty
measure. The panelists will discuss alternatives for counting the poor
and possible solutions to the limitations of the current global poverty
measure. They will be invited also to react to two proposed specific alternatives
to the current approach to international poverty comparisons namely, poverty-specific
PPP’s and a harmonized approach to measuring household consumption
expenditures from household survey and national accounts.
Notes on the talks
Jonathan Morduch will give a brief presentation the UNSD ongoing project
on the preparation of a handbook on poverty measurement and will moderate
Sanjay Reddy will discuss an alternative to the current 'money-metric'
approach to undertaking inter-country poverty comparison. The proposed
alternative explicitly focuses on the basic requirements of human beings,
such as adequate nutrition.
Michael Ward will discuss conceptual issues and statistical concerns
that justify favoring a distributional approach to the analysis of poverty
based on indicators and the aggregation of national and regional level
statistics rather than individual country data.
Ivo Havinga will discuss the reconciliation of the main current sources
of data for povery estimates, namely the household surveys and the national
accounts. He will discuss in particular the feasbility and international
applicability of a harmonized tool for the collection of micro data and
will present some technical constraints to such approach.