Friday, September 29, 2006

Dollar a day ???

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Hans Roslings' TED talk about the gapminder technology. A very interesting talk about global data; the work they are doing is awesome! After thinking about how they presented wealth distribution and poverty I have started to have my doubts. Hans showed an amazing dynamic graphic of financial distribution since 1970. In the graphic they included the dollar a day as a measure of poverty since 1970. As years passed everything in the graphic moved to the right showing a positive progress in the fight against poverty. One thing didn't move, that was the dollar a day line. The way I calculate it (based on Canadian inflation rates) a dollar in 1970 would be five dollars in 2003. Even though the presentation is impressive, I believe it is flawed. After some reading it would also seem the whole dollar a day calculation could be flawed...
How to not measure the poor.
Poor but pedicured.
How not to measure the poor - a reply.
Don't get me wrong, I think all the work in measuring global poverty is great. I'm just being critical of how progress is being claimed and how is is measured.

1 comment:

Hans Rosling said...

The dollar is purchasing power dollar at constant value, i.e. taking inflation into consideration. The problem with the measurment is not this conceptual issue but the considerabl uncertanty range due to difficulties in correctly defining family expenditures in retrospective interviews. If you go to Human Development Trend 2005 on www.gapminder.org you get the referance on the tooltip on the question mark to the left of the dollar.