A Project by Chow and Lin

"Poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and value." - World Bank, Poverty Analysis Overview


What is The Poverty Line? 

The Poverty Line explores a simple question: what does poverty mean?

The project is a collaboration between Stefen Chow and Hui-Yi Lin, which began in China in 2010 and has since expanded to 28 countries across 6 continents. The Poverty Line uses the universal lens of food to examine the choices you would face if you lived at the poverty line.

We are not simply trying to compare poverty in different countries; we want to create a way to understand poverty within the context of a single country. For developed countries, where relatively up-to-date household consumption data is available, we focused on the average daily amount that a person at the poverty line would spend on food. For developing countries, we used the average daily amount that a person living at the poverty line earns or spends. From this data, we produced a visual representation of everyday food items that would be accessible within that country for that amount of money. Where possible, we selected foods particular to that locality. We faced challenges in determining a method that would be feasible across different countries’ systems, and this project our way of bringing all this information together in one accessible, yet eye-catching visual presentation.

After viewing these images, we hope that viewers will leave with an increased awareness of poverty and food issues in countries around the world, and engage in discussion with others.