The paper provides a review of the current knowledge on poverty in six Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, representing middle income countries; and Yemen and Sudan, representing low income countries. The author starts off by presenting a brief review of the various approaches to the measurement of poverty with emphasis on the dominant methodology. The author then moves on to discuss issues relating to inequality in the distribution of income and presents evidence on poverty on the basis of international estimates of poverty in the Arab region. Estimates of poverty based on national poverty lines for the Arab countries are also presented. Findings of the paper include:
for all countries, except for Jordan, it is noted that the cost of basic needs approach to the estimation of poverty lines is used; this gives rise to lower and upper poverty lines
on average, and compared to other regions of the developing world, it is shown that the Arab region boasts a degree of inequality in the medium range
evidence shows a declining trend in inequality in the region over time
according to international estimates of poverty, the region boasts the lowest degree of incidence of poverty
according to the pro-poor growth index results, growth inducing public policy is expected to be highly pro-poor in the four middle income countries and pro-poor in Yemen
On the basis of the given review, the paper concludes that the knowledge base about poverty in the region is fairly decent, despite conflicting results and sometimes incomplete information. From a public policy perspective it seems fair to conclude that policies that are likely to be growth enhancing will have a pro-poor impact in middle income countries of the region.