Statistical Handbook on Poverty in the Developing World

Statistical Handbook on Poverty in the Developing World

Statistical Handbook on Poverty in the Developing World

Statistical Handbook on Poverty in the Developing World


Although poverty is one of the most serious issues facing the world's population, finding statistical information on this subject has, in the past, required a significant amount of time and effort. Now, this volume provides researchers with a single, comprehensive resource that includes detailed information regarding the worldwide and regional impact of poverty in the developing world and on individual countries from authoritative sources including the World Bank and the UN Human Development Report. The Handbook includes statistics on economic indicators, demographic patterns, income distribution, and other factors that impact poverty in the world today. Two special sections focus on women and children and on poverty in selected cities worldwide.


Poverty in developing countries is a profoundly disturbing problem. In a world where resources are plentiful and imbalances in the distribution of material goods are vast, the huge number of individuals who suffer under poverty-one-quarter of the world's population, according to United Nations Human Development Report 1997-strains credibility. Poverty results in a wide variety of human deprivations and can affect not only an individual's chances for survival and economic well-being, but a person's health, education, and social status; in the developing world, these effects deepen. Moreover, the poverty of developing countries has global implications, affecting international economic and political stability, as the poverty suffered in these countries strains national resources and creates pressure on political systems and policy apparatus.

Given the importance of these issues, of both the absolute and relative effects of poverty throughout the developing world, the need for understandable statistical material for the student and layperson is considerable. Indeed, statistics abound on the subject; however, data are frequently hard to access and understand, are presented in formats that are difficult to comprehend, and are scattered across a huge array of resources. The purpose of this volume, then, is to compile a comprehensive set of statistics from a wide variety of sources that explore the causes, effects, ramifications, and policies concerning poverty in developing countries in an organized format accessible to the non-specialist. It presents explanations for each indicator included in the volume in language that is clear and organizes those indicators in such a way as to make a comprehensive portrait of poverty in the developing world understandable to the user.

Definition and Scope

The title of this volume reveals its focus: it looks at poverty as a worldwide phenomenon but with particular emphasis on developing nations. The book employs a relative scale based on the full scope of human deprivation existing throughout the world and targets the poverty suffered by those underdeveloped populations throughout the world that fall considerably short of the standard witnessed in "developed" countries. Employing this relative scale, the data therefore focus on statistics in less wealthy "developing" countries. To accomplish this task, we include data mostly on low- and middle-income countries, as classified by the World Bank.

Admittedly, profound instances of poverty exist in wealthy industrialized countries. The poverty experienced by pockets of people in industrialized countries-- the rural or inner city poor in the United States, for example--might be as extreme as the poverty in some of the poorer developing countries of the world. Nevertheless, such poverty can be seen as deviations against higher norms than those in less-developed countries. And the issues resulting from poverty in developed countries are less global in nature, as wealthier countries often have the means of addressing poverty within their own boundaries. Therefore, such instances of poverty lie beyond the scope of this book.

Organization and Content

Although developing countries are the focus of this volume, Section A will present a comprehensive . . .

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