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Poverty and incomes in developing countries


This impact area refers to the impact of policy options on poverty respectively the income of the poorest populations.
After the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, 117 countries adopted a declaration and programme of action which included commitments to eradicate “absolute” and reduce “overall” poverty. In this context, absolute poverty was defined as "a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services." Compared to absolute poverty, overall poverty is a broader category taking various forms, including "lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods; hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments and social discrimination and exclusion. It is also characterised by lack of participation in decisionmaking and in civil, social and cultural life. It occurs in all countries: as mass poverty in many developing countries, pockets of poverty amid wealth in developed countries, loss of livelihoods as a result of economic recession, sudden poverty as a result of disaster or conflict, the poverty of low-wage workers, and the utter destitution of people who fall outside family support systems, social institutions and safety nets. (UN, 1995)
Policies in areas like agriculture, trade, investment, migration and others have a profound impact on developing countries, yet they often work at cross-purposes.  As an isolated development policy will not bring sufficient results, the EU adopted the policy coherence approach in 2005 according to which policy coherence for development is applied to 12 policy areas: trade, environment and climate change, security, agriculture, bilateral fisheries agreements, social policies (employment), migration, research / innovation, information technologies, transport and energy. Hence, policies in areas like agriculture might have a profound impacts on poverty and income distributions in third countries and need to be taken into account in an impact assessment.

Does the policy option increase poverty in developing countries or have an impact on income of the poorest populations?

Relevant Policies


DG EuropeAid Development and Cooperation:

Web Resources

Further Sources of Data

UNDP International Poverty Centre (2006): Poverty in Focus: Discusses definitions and measurements of poverty.

Further Sources of Information

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
UNDP Poverty Reduction
UNDP International Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)
OECD on development

Eurostat Indicator

The set of EU sustainable development indicators contain statistical data on sustainable development in the area of global partnership. They refer to

  • Official development assistance
  • Globalisation of trade
  • Financing for sustainable development 
  • Global resource management

Other Official Indicators

UN Development Group (2003): Indicators for Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals

Publications and applications

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
Poverty and Incomes in Developing Countries Impact Area 2013-06-13 11:54
Reidsma, Pytrik Expert 2014-04-08 17:04