PovcalNet


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PovcalNet is an interactive computational tool that allows you to replicate the calculations made by the World Bank's researchers in estimating the extent of absolute poverty in the world. PovcalNet also allows you to calculate the poverty measures under different assumptions and to assemble the estimates using alternative economy groupings or for any set of individual economies of the user’s choosing. PovcalNet is self-contained; it has reliable built-in software that quickly does the relevant calculations for you from the built-in database. 

In June 2021, the World Bank released revised estimates of global poverty from 1981 to 2017 (2018 and 2019 for selected regions) based on 2011 PPPs. The poverty estimates combine the revised Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) exchange rates for household consumption from the 2011 International Comparison Program (published in May 2020) with data from more than one thousand nine hundred household surveys across 168 economies in the world, including 28 high income economies not included in PovcalNet’s geographic regions.

PovcalNet is the source of, and allows users to replicate, the Bank's official global, regional and internationally comparable economy level poverty estimates published in the World Development Indicators and the Poverty and Shared Prosperity report. It also provides crucial inputs to the Poverty and Equity Data Portal. If you would like to duplicate the World Bank's regional poverty estimates please click the first button; or go to the second button to form your own group of economies. PovcalNet uses unit-record data whenever possible. For other cases, grouped distributions are used. New survey data become available to us on a continuous basis and these will be added to PovcalNet in regular updates.  

PovcalNet is a product of the World Bank's Development Economics Division, in particular the Development Data Group and the Development Research Group, and the Poverty and Equity Global Practice. This version of the PovcalNet software was designed by Qinghua Zhao. The global poverty monitoring database is managed by R. Andrés Castañeda, Tony Fujs, Dean Jolliffe, Christoph Lakner and Daniel Mahler, with assistance from Aleksander Eilertsen, David Vargas Mogollon, Marta Schoch, Samuel Tetteh Baah, Martha Viveros and Nishant Yonzan. Assembly of these data is undertaken under the auspices of the Global Poverty Working Group which brings together the PovcalNet team and economy- and regional-level counterparts in the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Global Practice, and which compiles economy level data and assesses these for international comparability. Overall guidance is provided by Deon Filmer, Director of the Research Department, Haishan Fu, Director of the Data Group, and Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice. The founder of PovcalNet and former Director of Research, Martin Ravallion, provides continued input on the methodology adopted in PovcalNet. A great many colleagues at the World Bank have helped the team in obtaining the necessary data for PovcalNet. An important acknowledgement goes to the staff of over 100 governmental statistics offices that collected the primary household and price survey data. The Development Data Group has provided the 2011 consumption PPPs, population and other National Accounts data used here.

PovcalNet was developed for the sole purpose of public replication of the World Bank’s poverty measures for its widely used international poverty lines, including $1.90 a day and $3.20 a day in 2011 PPP. The methods built into PovcalNet are considered reliable for that purpose. However, we cannot be confident that the methods work well for other purposes, including tracing out the entire distribution of income. We would especially warn that estimates of the densities near the bottom and top tails of the distribution could be quite unreliable, and no attempt has been made by the Bank’s staff to validate the tool for such purposes.

PovcalNet reports two types of poverty estimates at the economy-level (see user guide):

(1) Survey-year estimates are estimated directly from the available household surveys and they are identical to the estimates reported in the World Development Indicators and the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Data Portal.

(2) Reference-year estimates, which align survey estimates to common reference-years for the purposes of global and regional aggregations.

Since many countries do not have household surveys every year, it is often necessary to extrapolate or interpolate the welfare aggregate(s) of the closest survey year(s) to a common reference year, in order for poverty to be estimated across all countries to the same point in time. These extrapolations and interpolations to the reference years require additional assumptions, namely that (a) growth in the household income or consumption can be approximated by growth in national accounts and (b) all parts of the distribution grow at the same rate (methodological details can be found in Chapter 6 and Data Appendix). Given these additional assumptions, we caution against the use of reference-year estimates for comparing a country’s poverty trend over time. For that purpose, users should rely on the survey-year estimates and are advised to take into account breaks in survey comparability.

The term country, used interchangeably with economy, does not imply political independence but refers to any territory for which authorities report separate social or economic statistics.