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Project

The New Bottom Billion

New IDS research shows that the global poverty ‘problem’ is changing. There is a new ‘bottom billion’ of 960m poor people or 72 per cent of the world’s poor who live not in poor countries but in middle-income countries (MICs). This is a dramatic change from just two decades ago, when 93 per cent of poor people lived in low-income countries (LICs).

This isn’t just about India and China and the findings are consistent across monetary, nutritional and multi-dimensional poverty measures. Contrary to earlier estimates that a third of the poor live in fragile states, our estimate is about 23 per cent, and they are split fairly evenly between fragile LICs and fragile MICs.

These findings raise questions not only about the definitions of country categories, the future of poverty reduction in heterogeneous contexts, the role of inequality and structural societal change, and about aid and development policy. One read of the data is that poverty is increasingly turning from an international to a national distribution problem, and that governance and domestic taxation and redistribution policies become of more importance than overseas development assistance(ODA).

Project question: What does the new bottom billion mean for poverty reduction, aid and development policy?

Visualisation from the Guardian Development Blog

New Bottom Billion - Guardian Graphic

DATA: Download the full spreadsheet

Recent work

Working Paper

Where Do The World’s Poor Live? A New Update

This paper revisits, with new data, the changes in the distribution of global poverty towards middle-income countries (MICs). In doing so it discusses an implied 'poverty paradox' – the fact that most of the world's extreme poor no longer live in the world's poorest countries.

8 June 2012

Working Paper

What Do National Poverty Lines Tell Us About Global Poverty?

The basic question about ‘how many poor people are there in the world?’ generally assumes that poverty is measured according to international poverty lines (IPLs). Yet, an equally relevant question could be ‘how many poor people are there in the world, based on how poverty is defined where...

6 June 2012

Publication

Aid: A Survey in Light of Changes in the Distribution of Global Poverty

The contours of the landscape of foreign aid are shifting. There has been talk of a ‘triple revolution’ in official development assistance (ODA) in terms of goals, players and instruments – all of which are mushrooming – and a questioning of the validity of the current definition of ODA.

1 March 2012

Publication

What do National Poverty Lines tell us about Global Poverty?

IDS working papers;392

The basic question about “how many poor people are there in the world?” generally assumes that poverty is measured according to international poverty lines (IPLs). Yet, an equally relevant question could be “how many poor people are there in the world, based on how poverty is defined where...

1 January 2012