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Poor Countries or Poor People? Development Assistance and the New Geography of Global Poverty

Published on 1 July 2011

Two decades ago, 93% of the world’s poor lived in countries officially classified as Low Income (LICs). Now, 72% of the world’s poor live in Middle Income Countries (MICs). The dramatic shift has been brought about by fast growth in a number of countries with large populations. On present trends, the poor in the MICs are likely to make up a substantial proportion of global poor for many years to come. This “new geography of global poverty”—with the mass of the poor living in stable, non-poor countries–raises important questions for the current model of development assistance, where national per capita income is a key determinant of the volume and composition of aid flows. What precisely is the nature of global moral obligation towards the poor in non-poor countries? Should aid allocation be targeted equally to the poor in poor and non-poor countries, or should special weight be given to the poor in poor countries? How, if at all, should international agencies with a focus on poverty reduction re-calibrate their engagement in MICs? The objective of this paper is to begin addressing these questions to spark greater debate on the new geography of global poverty.

Publication details

authors
Kanbur, R. and Sumner, A.
journal
CEPR Discussion Paper, issue 8489

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