Development Research Group
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Inequality, Poverty reduction, Spatial prices, Poverty Measurement and Analysis, Inclusive Growth
Development Research Group
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Last updated June 22, 2023
Christoph Lakner is an Economist in the Development Research Group (Poverty & Inequality team) at the World Bank. He holds a DPhil, MPhil and BA in Economics from the University of Oxford. His research interests include inequality, poverty, and labor markets in developing countries. In particular, he has been working on global inequality, the relationship between inequality of opportunity and growth, implications of regional price differences for inequality, and the income composition of top incomes. He is also involved in the World Bank’s global poverty monitoring and co-leads PovcalNet, the home of the World Bank’s global poverty numbers.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-10) Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Yonzan, Nishant ; Lakner, ChristophThe COVID-19 pandemic has had catastrophic economic and human consequences worldwide. This paper tries to quantify the consequences of the pandemic on global inequality and poverty in 2020. Since face-to-face household survey data collection largely came to a halt during the pandemic, a combination of data sources is used to estimate the impacts on poverty and inequality. This includes actual household survey data, where available, high-frequency phone surveys, and country-level estimates from the literature on the impact of the pandemic on poverty and inequality. The results suggest that the world in 2020 witnessed the largest increase to global inequality and poverty since at least 1990. This paper estimates that COVID-19 increased the global Gini index by 0.7 point and global extreme poverty (using a poverty line of $2.15 per day) by 90 million people compared to counterfactual without the pandemic. These findings are primarily driven by country-level shocks to average incomes and an increase in inequality between countries. Changes to inequality within countries were mixed and relatively modest.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) van der Weide, Roy ; Lakner, Christoph ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Narayan, Ambar ; Ramasubbaiah, RakeshUsing individual data from over 400 surveys, this paper compiles a global database of intergenerational mobility in education for 153 countries covering 97 percent of the world’s population. For 87 percent of the world’s population, it provides trends in intergenerational mobility for individuals born between 1950 to 1989. The findings show that absolute mobility in education—the share of respondents that obtains higher levels of education than their parents—is higher in the developed world despite the higher levels of parental educational attainment. Relative mobility—measuring the degree of independence between parent and child years of schooling—is also found to be greater in the developed world. Together, these findings point to severe challenges in intergenerational mobility in the poorest parts of the world. Beyond national income levels, the paper explores the correlation between intergenerational mobility and a variety of country characteristics. Countries with higher rates of mobility have (i) higher tax revenues and rates of government expenditures, especially on education; (ii) better child health indicators (less stunting and lower infant mortality); (iii) higher school quality (more teachers per pupil and fewer school dropouts); and (iv) less residential segregation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-02) Edochie, Ifeanyi Nzegwu ; Freije-Rodriguez, Samuel ; Lakner, Christoph ; Moreno Herrera, Laura ; Newhouse, David Locke ; Sinha Roy, Sutirtha ; Yonzan, NishantThis paper nowcasts poverty in India, one of the countries with the largest population below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. Because the latest official household survey dates back to 2011/12, there is considerable uncertainty about recent poverty trends in the country. Applying a pass-through and survey-to-survey methodology, extreme poverty (at the $1.90 poverty line) for India in 2017 is estimated at 10.4 percent with a confidence interval of [8.1, 11.3]. The urban and rural poverty rates are estimated at 7.2 and 12.0 percent, respectively. Across a wide range of publicly available data sources, the paper finds no evidence of an increase in poverty between 2011/12 and 2017/18.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-12) Atkinson, Anthony B. ; Lakner, ChristophThis paper finds that capital and labor incomes in the United States have become more closely associated since the 1980s. This contributed to the well-known increase in the top 1 percent's share of total income, exacerbating rising inequality in capital incomes and earnings. The paper shows that the trend in the association is U-shaped, as the recent increase contrasts with a tendency toward a weakening association until the 1980s. The paper uses data derived from tax records, studies the asymmetries in the association, tests for robustness to alternative income definitions, and discusses the potential role of declining top marginal tax rates.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-02) Jirasavetakul, La-Bhus Fah ; Lakner, ChristophUsing a new database of household surveys, this paper examines inequality among all individuals living in developing East Asia regardless of their country of residence. The East Asian Gini index increased from 39.0 in 1988 to 43.3 in 2012. Inequality increased during the initial decade, regardless of the choice of inequality measure. The trend appears to have reversed in the mid-2000s. Regional inequality is now almost entirely explained by within-country differences, while gaps in average income across countries have become unimportant. This reversal has been driven by rising national inequality especially in populous countries, counteracted by catch-up growth in average incomes, particularly in China. Interpersonal differences in income at the regional level have thus become internalized within national boundaries.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-09) Castaneda Aguilar, R. Andres ; Fujs, Tony ; Jolliffe, Dean ; Lakner, Christoph ; Gerszon Mahler, Daniel ; Nguyen, Minh C. ; Schoch, Marta ; Vargas Mogollon, David L. ; Viveros Mendoza, Martha C. ; Baah, Samuel Kofi Tetteh ; Yonzan, Nishant ; Yoshida, NobuoThe September 2020 update to PovcalNet mainly involves the adoption of the revised 2011 PPPs for the estimation of global poverty. In addition, the coverage rules for reporting regional and global poverty aggregates have been reviewed, resulting in small adjustments. Historical regional and global aggregates are now reported with an annual frequency instead of intervals with varying lengths. Only two surveys have been added and some welfare aggregates have been revised compared with the March 2020 update. National accounts and population input data have been updated. This document explains these changes and the rationale behind them in detail. The data and associated estimates are used for the analysis of global poverty in the forthcoming Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03) Atamanov, Aziz ; Castaneda Aguilar, R. Andres ; Fujs, Tony H.M.J. ; Dewina, Reno ; Diaz-Bonilla, Carolina ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Jolliffe, Dean ; Lakner, Christoph ; Matytsin, Mikhail ; Montes, Jose ; Moreno Herrera, Laura L. ; Mungai, Rose ; Newhouse, David ; Nguyen, Minh C. ; Parada Gomez Urquiza, Francisco J. ; Silwal, Ani Rudra ; Sanchez Castro, Diana M. ; Schoch, Marta ; Vargas Mogollon, David L. ; Viveros Mendoza, Martha C. ; Yang, Judy ; Yoshida, Nobuo ; Wu, HaoyuThe March 2020 update to PovcalNet involves several changes to the data underlying the global poverty estimates. Some welfare aggregates have been changed for improved harmonization, and some of the CPI, national accounts, and population input data have been revised. This document explains these changes in detail and the reasoning behind them. In addition to the changes listed here, a large number of new country-years have been added, bringing the total number of surveys to more than 1,900.
Publication(Springer Nature, 2022-03-02) Lakner, Christoph ; Gerszon Mahler, Daniel ; Negre, Mario ; Prydz, Espen BeerThe goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and working towards a more equal distribution of incomes are part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Using data from 166 countries comprising 97.5 percent of the world’s population, we simulate scenarios for global poverty from 2019 to 2030 under various assumptions about growth and inequality. We use different assumptions about growth incidence curves to model changes in inequality and rely on a machine-learning algorithm called model-based recursive partitioning to model how growth in GDP is passed through to growth as observed in household surveys. When holding within-country inequality unchanged and letting GDP per capita grow according to World Bank forecasts and historically observed growth rates, our simulations suggest that the number of extreme poor (living on less than 1.90 dollars/day) will remain above 600 million in 2030, resulting in a global extreme poverty rate of 7.4 percent. If the Gini index in each country decreases by 1 percent per year, the global poverty rate could reduce to around 6.3 percent in 2030, equivalent to 89 million fewer people living in extreme poverty. Reducing each country’s Gini index by 1 percent per year has a larger impact on global poverty than increasing each country’s annual growth 1 percentage point above forecasts. We also study the impact of COVID-19 on poverty and find that the pandemic may have driven around 60 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. If the pandemic increased the Gini index by 2 percent in all countries, then more than 90 million may have been driven into extreme poverty in 2020.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) Castaneda Aguilar, R. Andres ; Lakner, Christoph ; Prydz, Espen B. ; Soler Lopez, Jorge ; Wu, Ruoxuan ; Zhao, QinghuaThis note describes how poverty measures reported by the World Bank can be replicated using the Stata command povcalnet. Users can estimate poverty at any poverty line for the world, regions or sets of countries, by directly querying the World Bank's database of household surveys. The command also retrieves inequality statistics provided by the database.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) Castaneda Aguilar, R. Andres ; Diaz-Bonilla, Carolina ; Fujs, Tony H. M. J. ; Jolliff, Dean ; Lakner, Christoph ; Mahler, Daniel G. ; Nguyen, Minh C. ; Schoch, Marta ; Tetteh-Baah, Samuel K. ; Viveros Mendoza, Martha C. ; Wu, Haoyu ; Yonzan, NishantThe September 2022 update to the Poverty and Inequality Platform (PIP) involves two changes to the data underlying the global poverty estimates. First, this update adopts the 2017 Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) as announced by the World Bank in May 2022. Second, this update includes five new rounds of survey data for India, making it possible to monitor poverty in the country between 2015 and 2019. This document explains these changes in detail and the reasoning behind them.