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Under-estimation of Urban Poverty in Low and Middle-income Nations, The

David Satterthwaite

Working paper, 71 pages

This paper discusses the limitations in the income-based poverty lines that are widely used to define poverty and to measure urban poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This includes a discussion of whether the poverty lines defined by international agencies and national governments are set at levels that are realistic in relation to the costs of living in the larger/more prosperous/more expensive cities and the prices that the urban poor have to pay for essential non-food items. It also includes a discussion of what poverty definitions based only on income fail to take account of in regard to identifying deprivation and to helping inform poverty reduction policies and practices. This paper assembles data from many empirical studies which suggest that the scale and depth of urban poverty is systematically under-estimated in most of the official statistics produced or used by governments and international agencies.

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Satterthwaite D (2004) The Under-estimation of Urban Poverty in Low and Middle-income Nations. Human Settlements Working Paper Series Poverty Reduction in Urban Areas No. 14. IIED, London.

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Around a billion people live in informal settlements. Drawing on the knowledge and practical experience of our partners in Asia, Latin America and Africa, IIED is working to reduce urban poverty, and to change misleading views about urbanisation and rural change.

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