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Income Categories and Proposed Energy Categories

Energy use is highly correlated with a country’s income category. No rich country consumes less than 5,000 kWh/person/year; no poor country consumes more than 300 kWh/person/year. Just as countries are categorized as low, lower middle, upper middle, and high income, energy categories could be established for extreme low energy, low energy, middle energy, and high energy , on the basis of annual per capita energy use.

Median Income / Consumption Data as Extracted from the World Bank’s PovcalNet

By making this data public, we hope to encourage more development professionals to use the median in evaluating individuals’ material well-being in developing (and developed) countries and progress toward broad-based economic growth and shared prosperity. We also hope that wider use of the median will provide an incentive for the World Bank to publish the data in an easily accessible format along with the full distribution, in line with its open data policy.

Median Income versus GDP

Median measures of well-being give us a better picture than the mean of the well-being of a “typical” individual. Take Nigeria and Tanzania: in 2010, Nigeria’s GDP per capita (at PPP) was $5,123; Tanzania’s stood at only $2,111. This suggests that Nigerians were more than twice as well off as Tanzanians. Yet, if we compare consumption medians, a different picture emerges: a Nigerian at the middle of the income distribution lived on $1.80 a day, while his or her Tanzanian counterpart had 20 cents more to spend, at $2 a day.

Shares of Global Aid vs. Shares of Global Poor

There are big gaps between where aid gets spent and where the poor live. In the graph, countries to the right of the diagonal line receive a share of aid that is less than their share of people living in poverty. Asia is the standout case of this mismatch.

US Aid to the Middle East and North Africa

Since 1978, barely one-third of US assistance to the Middle East and North Africa has been allocated to economic support. Since 2009, despite a long period of economic decline in the region, economic assistance has not accounted for more than 10 percent of total combined military and economic aid.