Trends in poverty and inequality and further clustering of developing countries

The objective of this study is to provide an in-depth review of the evidence on poverty and associated inequalities, and on what reduces them, in order to inform the European Union’s reflections on implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. This is accomplished partly by scrutinising the literature, but significantly by means of new analytical work, which seeks to:

  • assess trends for indicators of poverty, inequality and human development, using robust methods for assessing change, either between 1990 and a recent year or, in some cases, between 2000 and a recent year;

  • explore the relationship between being part of a ‘special status’ group — namely least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) — or geographic category — sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) or the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states — and indicators of poverty, inequality and human development;

  • analyse various projections of extreme poverty through 2030, highlight the assumptions they make and provide commentary on the most likely scenarios;

  • interrogate conventional country categories — notably LDCs, FCAS and middle income countries (MICs) — and investigate the possibilities of creating a spectrum of country categories based on recent progress as well as income levels;

  • draw out the main challenges and opportunities in this changing picture, and assess policy implications.

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Authors: Andrew Shepherd, Emma Samman, Mikaela Gavas, Raphaëlle Faure