Growth and survival

From email
Matt Berkley

10 August 2000
Subject: Growth and survival

Dear Mark

I've seen your new paper on growth and the poor, and was relieved that someone has raised the possibility that income figures look better if the poorest die off.

This seems plausible to me, but maybe more plausible is that the figures look better if non-productive people die.

I wonder what you think of the following.

On the first point, Jonathan Morduch at Princeton has suggested to me that deaths of the poorest households may not have a statistically significant effect on the income figure for the poorest quintile. If he is right, why is this? I would have thought for the same reason that the average income in the quintile isn't far from the top income: if you're very far below the top you drop out of the figures, because the consumption level isn't enough to sustain life...