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The rich and the poor: Changes in incomes of developing countries since 1960

Briefing/policy papers

This Briefing Paper analyses changes in the incomes and status of developing countries. Most countries in the world are getting richer. Incomes in some countries which were previously regarded as 'developing' have now caught up with incomes in advanced countries. Yet incomes in other countries, particularly the poorest, have not improved and have therefore declined relative to the rest of the world. We are used to the idea of a 'North-South gap', but this concept is not helpful when trying to understand the meaning of income, wealth, welfare and poverty. Whatever terms are used, and however we measure them, the global range of incomes remains wide. Many of the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, have seen little or no income improvement: their poverty clearly divides them from the rest of the world.