(Not for release before 3 December 2002)
Income is not the only measurement
of poverty, and economic growth alone will not end poverty.
Escaping poverty depends on improving personal capacities
and increasing access to resources, institutions and
The overall gap between rich and poor, globally and
within countries, has been growing. The difference in per
capita income between the world’s wealthiest 20 per cent
and the poorest 20 per cent grew from 30 to 1 in 1960, to 78
to 1 in 1994. It fell slightly to 74 to 1 in 1999.
Poor health, illiteracy, inadequate schooling, social exclu-sion,
powerlessness and gender discrimination contribute
to poverty. Poor health diminishes personal capacity, lowers
productivity and reduces earnings. A high prevalence of
disease and poor health in a country harms economic perfor-mance
while higher life expectancy, a key indicator of
health status, stimulates economic growth. An analysis of 53
countries between 1953 and 1990 found that higher adult
survival rates were responsible for about 8 per cent of total
Progress has been achieved easier
and faster in countries that have provided reproductive
health services, including family planning, increased
the coverage and quality of education, advanced gender
equality, and developed responsible and accountable
systems of governance and social participation.
A judicious combination of income-based, indicator-based,
and participatory-based information should be used to assess
poverty and derive policy implications. Institutions should
have incentives to use this information for planning purposes.