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World Inequality and Global Poverty

This guide describes library resources that may be useful to students in the pre-college course "World Inequality and Global Poverty".

Using the Library

This LibGuide will direct you to resources you can use to research patterns in global poverty and the strategies development practitioners use to combat it.  This page focuses on books and country level data, as well as some resources that are freely available online.

Since poverty and development are interdisciplinary subjects, there are a number of librarians who may be able to help you with your research.  If you're researching educational initiatives to combat poverty South Asia, for example, you may reach out to the subject specialist for South Asia, Education, or even Anthropology.  

The UN's Millennium Development Goals

In September 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - one of the most ambitious attempts to reduce extreme global poverty in human history.  The MDGs recognize that poverty must be fought on many fronts and requires a joint effort by local and national governments, healthcare providers, educators, NGOs, and industry.  


The eight Millennium Development Goals. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 2015.

Despite remarkable gains in the war against poverty, the UN's final 2015 report on the initiative recognized how deeply entrenched poverty remains.  

The world's poor remain overwhelmingly concentrated in some parts of the world.  In 2011, nearly 60 percent of the world's one billion extremely poor people lived in just five countries.  Too many women continue to die during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications.  Progress tends to bypass women and those who are lowest on the economic ladder or are disadvantaged because of their age, disability, or ethnicity.  Disparities between rural and urban areas remain pronounced. 

--Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General, United Nations (2015)  

Free Online Resources

There are some great resources for learning about poverty that are freely available online. 

ELDIS is one of the most important development websites.  It is maintained by the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex and aims “to share the best in development, policy, practice and research.” It offers: 

  • 26,000 full text documents free to download from more than 7,500 different publishers. 
  • Eldis resource guides that are subject focused and offer quick access to key documents, organizations, research themes, discussions and other key resources.
  • Eldis country profiles provide access to databases arranged by country, plus quick links to country briefing services on other websites.
  • Eldis email newsletters bring the latest research on 35 different topics to your mail-box.  
  • Eldis newsfeeds feed to your website or news reader for the latest information on 25 topics.  (For more info on RSS feeds, click here.)
  • News, events and jobs provide a selection of recent development news, announcements, email newsletters and job advertisements. 

Gapminder is a Swedish foundation that provides resources for better understanding data on poverty - including graphs, quizzes, videos, photos, and human interest stories.  Check out Dollar Street - Gapminder's new tool for understanding the impact of income inequality on people's everyday lives.