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Professor Sir Tony Atkinson to lead new Commission on Global Poverty

25 Jun 2015

Professor Sir Tony Atkinson is to chair the new World Bank Commission on Global Poverty, which will report on the best ways to measure and monitor poverty around the world and help the World Bank Group achieve its twin goals and also track other forms of poverty and deprivation.

The new Commission, made up of 24 leading international economists, was announced by the World Bank's Chief Economist, Kaushik Basu. Professor Atkinson, a leading authority on the measurement of poverty and inequality, is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, a Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and the Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics.

Announcing the new advisory body, Mr Basu said he expects the Commission to also provide advice on how to adjust the measurement of extreme poverty as and when new Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and other price and exchange rate data become available.

PPP calculations allow economists to compare different global exchange rates to assess household consumption and real income in US dollars, since nominal exchange rates do not accurately capture differences in costs of living across countries. 

“We want to hold the yardstick constant for measuring extreme poverty till 2030, our target year for bringing extreme and chronic poverty to an end," he said. 

“Furthermore, poverty has many other dimensions and it is unacceptable in today’s prosperous world that so many people suffer such deprivations. The Global Commission will advise us on other dimensions of poverty that the Bank should collect data on, track, analyze and make available to policymakers for evidence-based decisions.”  

In 2014, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced the Bank’s commitment to two goals that would direct its development work worldwide. The first was the eradication of chronic extreme poverty, defined as those extremely poor people living on less than $1.25 PPP-adjusted dollars a day, to less than 3% of the world population by 2030. The second is the boosting of shared prosperity, defined as promoting the growth of per capita real income of the poorest 40% of the population in each country.

This year, UN member nations are expected to agree in New York to a set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the first and foremost of which is the eradication of extreme poverty everywhere, in all its forms. 

The final report will be ready by end April 2016.

“We expect the Commission report to be influential not only for our own work on poverty but also in shaping global research and policymaking on this most important challenge of our times,” said Mr Basu.

Originally posted on Oxford Martin School.

Find out more about the new Commission on Global Poverty.