Celebrating the Impactful Work of Economist Martin Ravallion

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When the World Bank set its objective of eliminating poverty, it was all thanks to Martin’s definition and corresponding criteria.

Martin Ravallion, a dedicated Australian economist striving to combat poverty, often found his reputation had spread even before he visited the most remote parts of the world.

In 2016, De Correspondent divulged details about a 2005 field trip Ravillion had taken to China’s financially-strained province of Guizhou. He asked the county statistician how they determined the number of impoverished people in that region.

“Martin’s technique,” the administrator retorted. Ravallion pondered if the analyst knew he had been dining with the originator of a method for gauging destitution accepted around the globe.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” the official responded. “You won’t ever be able to replicate Martin’s success.”

On Christmas Eve, Martin Ravallion, who had succumbed to prostate cancer at 70 in Washington DC, was remembered fondly.

Economist Gaurav Datt of Monash University lauds the accomplishments of Ravallion’s career, noting that this Australian has achieved remarkable feats in his field and deserves greater recognition.

In 1985, Ravillion had the pleasure of supervising Datt’s PhD at the Australian National University. After that, they maintained close ties and even worked together later during their tenure at the World Bank.

“Ravallion had an inexhaustible drive and was utterly unstoppable,” Datt says. “He gave it his all until the end and would have continued if given the opportunity.”

Colleagues at the World Bank have honoured Ravallion for being a “leading figure” in studying poverty and inequality. At the Center for Global Development, where he was once a non-resident fellow, they hailed him as an “extraordinary” economist, with more than 370 of his works cited numerous times. Google Scholar also attributes him with over 83,000 citations! It is no doubt that Ravallion’s work has made an immense impact on our understanding of poverty and economic inequity.

Renowned for his pioneering research in determining ways to measure and compare global poverty, Ravallion pushed the World Bank to set a universal standard of US$1 per day as their marker of financial poverty. After thresholding these limits, the next urgent task was identifying policy approaches that effectively reduce figures below this line.

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