In 2000, the United Nations brought attention to the
matter of global poverty by establishing the Millennium
Development Goals. First among these goals was a commitment to
"reduce by half the proportion of people that, in 1990, lived on
less than one dollar per day" by the year 2015. While an
important challenge, great care must be taken in defining poverty
and its causes, so that appropriate solutions and accurate
measurement of progress towards such goals can be achieved.
Unfortunately, most past research on poverty and inequality,
including the UN Development Program's Human Development Reports,
does not provide a clear picture of human welfare.
Sala-i-Martin's summary assesses world poverty and income
inequality using a new measurement tool that estimates the
distribution of income among individuals in 138 countries between
1970 and 2000. After reviewing past research on poverty and
inequality, the study presents the World Distribution of Income
(WDI) in order to analyze global trends in poverty and
inequality. The results show that despite the growing income gap
between rich and poor countries, world poverty and income
inequality fell markedly between 1970 and 2000.