African poverty rates blown up by World Bank/MDG measure
Nationally defined poverty more relevant
The ‘absolute poverty line’ calculated by the World Bank from the mean of the national poverty lines for the poorest 15 countries is $1.25/day. A slightly higher line, $2/day, is the average of the national poverty lines for all developing countries.
To date, these lines have been accepted as the universal poverty metric, underpinning global goals such as the MDGs and discussions on how the world is doing in reducing poverty. But that is increasingly coming into question.
So what difference would it make if we instead counted the number of poor people in the world based on how poverty is defined in their own countries?
In Africa, poverty rates based on international lines are often much higher than national measures. Nationally-defined poverty would be more relevant for national policy-makers, for the involvement of other national actors, and for recognition that poverty exists everywhere and thus is a universal issue.