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Q&A with Martin Ravallion on Poverty in the Developing World

Screenshot from Martin Ravallion InterviewOn August 26, 2008, the World Bank published new estimates of poverty in the developing world [article | news release | brief | research paper].

Martin Ravallion, director of the Bank's Development Research Group, and co-author of the research with Shaohua Chen, answers some key questions.

All clips are in Windows Media format.

Read the interview transcript.

Clip 1. New data show that there are more poor people in the world than we thought. Why was poverty previously underestimated? (01:08)

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Clip 2. Given what we now know about the scale of world poverty, is it still feasible to achieve the first Millennium Goal of halving the 1990 poverty rate by 2015? (00:53)
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Clip 3. Why is the new international poverty line set at $1.25 a day in 2005 prices instead of a dollar a day in 1993 prices? Does that mean the definition of poverty has changed? (01:07)

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Clip 4. Will these latest poverty estimates change again when you take into account recent hikes in food and fuel prices? (00:40)
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Clip 5. How widely are the World Bank’s international poverty estimates used by the United Nations, governments, and other partners? Are there other official measures of poverty? (00:43)
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Clip 6. You’ve been researching poverty for more than two decades. What, in your view, are the biggest challenges the world faces in finding the right tools to fight poverty? Why have some regions fared so much better than others? (01:12)
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Clip 7. In India, the share of people living in poverty has reduced over time, but the total number of poor people has gone up with population growth. So is poverty rising in India, or falling? Has India’s strong economic growth been strong enough? (01:18)
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Clip 8. Is the story different when you look at just the last 5 to 10 years as opposed to all the way back to 1981? And is India on track to achieve the first MDG to halve the 1990 rate of poverty by 2015? (01:16)
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Clip 9. What was the estimate of poverty in India before the new, improved data on cost of living allowed your recent revision, and what is it now that you know more about the cost of living? (00:45)
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Clip 10. How does the cost of living data from India in 1993 compare with 2005? How significant is this difference? (00:39)
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Clip 11. Do countries typically use the World Bank’s international poverty lines in their own reporting of poverty data? What’s the difference between national poverty lines and the international poverty line? (01:20)
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Clip 12. Which one is more frequently used, by whom, and for what purposes? (00:27)
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Clip 13. What was the estimate of poverty in China before the new, improved data on cost of living allowed your recent revision, and what is it now that you know more about the cost of living? (01:02)
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Clip 14. Is China’s progress in reducing poverty as strong as we thought? (00:30)
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Clip 15. How does the cost of living data from China in 1993 compare with 2005? How significant is this difference? (00:36)
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Clip 16. To what extent has China been responsible for reducing poverty in East Asia, and in the world? Would the world have achieved anything against poverty since 1981 if you removed China from the picture? (03:07)
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Clip 17. What lessons can other countries learn from China’s experience, in terms of poverty reduction? (00:46)
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