Andy Sumner is a Reader in International Development at King’s College, London. He has published extensively on poverty, inequality and economic development including nine books. His current research focuses on: global poverty and inequality, inclusive growth and structural transformation in Southeast Asia, and the future of foreign aid and development cooperation in middle-income developing countries. Central themes of his work are the persistence of poverty in middle-income countries, the implications of national inequality for poverty, and theories of poverty. His research seeks to reconnect the analysis of poverty with the study of economic development and structural transformation. In recent years his research has focused on the fact that about a billion people, or three-quarters of the world’s poor, live in middle-income countries. This raises various questions about the causes of poverty, distributional patterns of economic development and the dominant country analytical categories themselves. He holds associate positions at Oxford University at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, the Center for Global Development in Washington DC, the United Nations University, WIDER, Helsinki, and the Centre for Economics and Development Studies, Padjadjaran University, Indonesia. He was listed in Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’ for the impact of his work on global poverty.
Three-quarters of global poverty could be eliminated by addressing inequality and redistributing existing resources within developing countries.
The failure of effective direct taxation is the central explanation for much higher final income inequality. Therefore Cobham and Sumner argue in favour of more fairness in tax systems through metrics.
Given the over-sensitivity of the Gini to the middle of the distribution, and the insensitivity of the Palma, policymakers could consider a choice between the two: which aspect of the distribution are you more concerned with?
The new bottom billion has reshaped the demographics of poverty. This calls for a renewed development narrative, one that focuses on inequality and shared responsibility.