World Bank: 1.5B abject POOR, 200M New Poor in last decade - Why?

Tom Boland (
Wed, 9 Jun 1999 21:11:16 -0700 (PDT)

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[Feel free to forward my queries below to interested lists and persons.]

The World Bank's "underlying purpose always has been to cut poverty,"
according to the article below.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?

Does anyone have statistics or opinions on the impact of the World Bank and
related groups on "changes in poverty rates" in nations worldwide?

Abject poverty in "communist" China "declined from 280 million in 1990 to
125 million in 1997".  Yet over the last decade we have hundreds of
millions of New Poor in the world's "free market" economies.  Why the

An article on the forthcoming World Bank report on global poverty follows:
FWD  AP Headlines - June 3, 1999


     By David Briscoe - Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A world that had been making progress finds itself with
200 million more people in abject poverty than a decade ago.

A new World Bank report blames the Asian financial crisis for increasing
poverty across Asia and much of the rest of the world. It calls for bailout
programs and preventative measures to provide urgent relief for suffering
people, not just suffering economies.

In its first detailed look at the impact of the Asian financial crisis on
global poverty, the bank estimates 200 million ``newly poor,'' with
setbacks in the modestly successful march against poverty in Africa, South
Asia, East Asia and Latin America.

``Countries that until recently believed they were turning the tide in the
fight against poverty are witnessing its re-emergence,'' said World Bank
President James D. Wolfensohn. ``We must now draw on the lessons of recent
experience to help us reshape our strategies for the future.''

The bank will stress programs that provide social protections, referred to
by economists as ``safety nets,'' it said in its annual update on global
poverty. Planned measures include programs to provide unemployment
insurance, subsidized school fees, job creation and food subsidies.

The bank is responding to data showing poverty rising again in India,
continuing to go up in Africa and sharply worsening across Eastern Europe
and Central Asia. Among the hardest hit are the poor of Indonesia, whose
numbers have increased by 30 million since the crisis began in 1997.

Worldwide, the number of people below the abject poverty level of $1 a day
income is estimated at 1.5 billion - up 200 million from 1993. Final
figures for 1999 will not be available for several years, but the estimate
is based on trends since 1.2 billion poor were counted in 1987.

Despite the gloomy outlook for global poverty, the bank reported widespread
progress in health and education. An exception to the increase in poverty
is China, where the number of poor is believed to have declined from 280
million in 1990 to 125 million in 1997.

The bank, in a report last week based on a survey of Asian companies,
concluded that Asian economies are recovering more quickly than expected
from the crises, which started in Thailand in 1997 with plunging currency
rates and spread through Asia and beyond.

The new report points to a lasting impact on some of the world's poorest,
diminishing hope of cutting worldwide poverty in half by 2020 - a goal many
experts had thought could be achieved.

The bank's underlying purpose always has been to cut poverty, but it has
been criticized in recent years for lending programs that stress long-term
development over dealing more directly with the suffering.

``The East Asia crisis and its spillover into other emerging markets offers
the world an opportunity to devise a new approach to crisis, one that
rightly puts concern for the poor and the vulnerable right at the center of
its response,'' said World Bank economist Giovanna Prennushi, who wrote the
global report.


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