NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Poor Is Really Poor?

June 14, 1997

In this year's edition of the U.N. Development Program's "Human Development Report," an attempt is made to identify which developing countries are the least poor and which are the poorest.

Here are the leaders and the laggards in the index.

  • The people of Trinidad and Tobago are the least poor among developing nations -- followed by residents of Cuba, Chile, Singapore, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Jordan, Panama and Uruguay.
  • Citizens of Niger rank at the very bottom of the list of 78 countries in the index.
  • Progressively less poor, but still at the very bottom of the list, are residents of Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Mali, Cambodia, Mozambique, Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi.

Some countries are making an all out effort to reduce poverty by introducing economic policies aimed at growth in their poorest areas. In 1971, when Malaysia began such efforts, 60 percent of people there were reckoned to live below the poverty line. This was reduced to an estimated 14 percent by 1993 -- and could be halved again by 2000.

Source: "Good-bye to Poverty, Maybe, Perhaps," Economist, June 14, 1997.


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