At times, Yes. I came across this view by Robert Weir, economist.
The thing to watch for is the subtle effects of survivorship. Especially with extreme poverty, high mortality rates will be the norm. Initially attempts to alleviate rising poverty, say, providing better access to food and medicine, will decrease mortality rates. This can cause poverty rates to go up, not down, since more are living. This actually is a good thing, as a first step. A rising poverty rate can indicate that fewer people are dying from poverty.
You always need to ask the big “why” question, of why the rate has increased. Both having some from the middle class fall into poverty, and having some who would have previously died now live, might look the same if you just look at the rising poverty rate metric, but they are very different things.
It is worth comparing to a related effect we see in medical statistics, where a new therapy for treating a disease can lead to an increased prevalence of that disease if the therapy does not cure, but increases life expectancy of those with the disease. So statistics read in a hurry can look bad, but are actually quite good.
The common flaw here is to think there are only two states, poor/non-poor, or healthy/sick and fail to appreciate that there is a third state — dead — that is quite important to account for as well.
Now I leave the question open to my dear friends of HashingLife.com – Can rising poverty ever be a good thing?
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