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Collection of all the Doha Development Briefings

Briefing/policy papers

In part, the differences between those who see trade as good for poverty reduction and those who see it as bad can be attributed to different understandings of what is meant by poverty and how it should be measured. The definition of poverty in academic
and policy discourses on international development broadened considerably in the 1990s. The first strand of the debate is fundamentally philosophical and concerns the meaning of poverty, in particular the distinction between means (e.g. income) and ends (e.g. life expectancy, substantive freedoms). Depending on outlook, some components (e.g. expenditure, assets, or literacy) can potentially be classifi ed as either means or ends in the defi nition of poverty. The second strand is more prosaically methodological, and revolves around the accuracy of
different approaches to the measurement of poverty:
even if it is accepted that poverty is defi ned as falling
below a minimum acceptable level of consumption, there is room for debate as to whether this level can be accurately captured in surveys of expenditure, or whether analysis also needs to take account of access to common property resources, assets, and so on. While relative poverty lines are often used in rich
countries, research and policy in the developing world almost always uses an absolute poverty line.

Tim Conway