Opinion: Angus Deaton and the Location of Poverty

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

On Wednesday, Angus Deaton published an op-ed in the New York Times that paints a compelling picture of the depth of poverty in America, and the need for more money and more policy attention to fix it. It’s a sobering read, and we strongly agree that America’s most destitute deserve far more support.

But in comparing US poverty to poverty in developing countries, we think he’s got his numbers wrong. In short, the Nobel laureate’s recent claim that 5.3 million Americans live below the World Bank’s absolute poverty line—and thus foreign aid should be redirected back home—compares income data for the US to consumption data from developing countries. Comparing like with like suggests a very different picture.

Photo courtesy of frankieleon.

Source: Center for Global Development (link opens in a new window)