Thursday, February 23, 2017

What is being poor?

In 2008 the World Bank raised its Global Poverty Line from $1.00 to $1.25 per day, then raised it again to $1.90 in 2015, taking inflation and other factors into account. Using these figures there are now some 700 million people living in extreme poverty. These thresholds tell us nothing meaningful.

It should be obvious that even if poverty (at $1.90) is declining, this is a very low bar, and rising above it (going from $1.90 to $2.30 or $3.15) still leaves you poor. Thinking about the difference between extreme poverty, or dire poverty, or just plain poverty is something only rich people can afford to do; ask someone who has moved from a dollar to a dollar and a half (a spectacular 50% jump) and we might find that person feeling no different than before, or even poorer.

Poverty is a matter of position, where one is in a society.

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