2020: "End of Poverty" Illusion

Source:  The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 18 | Issue 17 | Number 5 | Article ID 5470 | Sep 01, 2020

The “End of Poverty” Illusion: Global and East Asian Realities in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mel Gurtov

The World Bank’s “International Poverty Line,” a politically driven standard, obscures the reality that, in East Asia as elsewhere, poverty is increasing alongside enormous wealth for the richest ten percent. The COVID-19 pandemic is driving tens of millions more people into poverty in East Asia than would otherwise be the case, challenging all governments to meet the crisis where it most counts: in health care, food, aid to small businesses, and income. For that to happen, however, requires a dramatically different approach to economic globalization by governments and international lending agencies. Two events, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, are playing havoc with efforts by international organizations to reduce poverty. The United Nations, the World Health Organization, and numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are all engaged in poverty-reduction programs, but the World Bank stands out for obstructing a clearer understanding not just of how poverty should be defined, but also of what it takes to lift people out of it. ....

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