Addressing the Complexities of Poverty

Report on the World Social Situation 2010

The world needs to reassess the notion of poverty and the means for its eradication, according to a new report published by DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development.

The Report on the World Social Situation 2010 entitled “Rethinking Poverty” was critical of the current way that the international community identified and addressed poverty.

The Report argued that “although the current monetary poverty-line approach (poverty equating to those who earn $1.25 a day or less) provides a clear and accessible definition of absolute poverty and allows for various types of comparison, it nonetheless has considerable shortcomings.”

It maintained that poverty was much more “multifaceted, multi-dimensional and volatile” and suggested that “other non-income dimensions, such as education, health and environmental deficits, and social exclusion” be considered in the poverty equation.

Moreover, Acting Chief of the Social Perspective Branch at the Division for Social Policy and Development Wenyan Yang said that recent improvements in poverty reduction had been geographically uneven.

“The number of people living in extreme poverty [may have fallen from] 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion people between 1981 and 2005, however, if China is taken out of the calculation, this number actually increased from 1.1 billion people to 1.2 billion people.”

The Report pointed out that poverty levels during this time period had risen in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as in Central Asia.

Ms. Yang said that the Report called for “a more comprehensive and integrated approach to poverty reduction… putting the creation of decent jobs at the centre of development strategy”.

The Report said that “the most direct pathway out of poverty is by generating enough decent work opportunities” and that “making the promotion of full and productive employment and decent work for all a central objective of macroeconomic policy would ensure more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth, and reduce both inequality and poverty”.

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