Bhalla: Raise the Poverty Line

Surjit Bhalla, known for arguing that there are far fewer poor people than conventionally estimated, is putting forth a new bold argument: that more people ought to count as poor. That’s not a reversal of his position; it’s an implication:

Asian and world poverty has declined significantly, and the concept of absolute poverty has receded. Today, absolute poverty in most parts of the developing world is relative; hence the need for a new, and higher, poverty line.

Before arriving at that conclusion, Bhalla challenges numerous other conventional wisdoms. He says that the World Bank overestimates poverty, that world poverty today really means African poverty, and that foreign aid is already adequate in the Jeff Sachs sense — transferred resources are at least equal to the minimum required to eliminate poverty.

I’ve only read the introduction, but I know that this contrarian work is interesting enough to pass it along before having completed it. Bhalla’s paper is “Raising the Standard: The War on Global Poverty” (pdf), part of Joe Stiglitz’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue.