More than a billion people around the world still exist in extreme poverty, which is defined by living on less than $1.25 a day. The good news is that number dropped by half from 1990 through 2010. And a new report says eliminating extreme poverty altogether is “within reach” by 2030.
The report was produced by the Brookings Institution, which says that a combination of increased shared consumption and improved global distribution of resources have dramatically reduced the poverty rate over the past 23 years, but that “both factors are needed simultaneously” to bring the total percentage of those living below the $1.25 rate to 3 percent or less.
The report gained prominence on Friday when Bill Gates tweeted about it in a message to his 13-million-plus followers:
What are the prospects of ending extreme poverty? This interactive chart shows how far we've come since 1990: http://t.co/yeOPEtPv2s— Bill Gates (@BillGates) October 18, 2013
“Over the past twenty years global poverty reduction was made possible by a consistently large mass of people lining up behind the poverty line each year, and sufficient consumption growth to carry many of these individuals across the threshold,” the report explains.
According to the report, there are more people living around the $1.25 mark “than at any other consumption level in the world.” Among the world’s billion people living in extreme poverty, a report released this month by the World Bank Group says that 400 million of them are children.
However, the World Bank Group report also had good news that aligns with the findings of Brookings, stating that 721 million fewer people live in extreme poverty today compared to 1981.
“We need to act urgently, and with a sharpened focus, to implement effective policies in places where poverty remains entrenched, particularly rural areas,” Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank acting vice president of poverty reduction and economic management, said in a statement. The governors of the World Bank Group have also endorsed the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Perhaps not surprisingly, China and India have been at the forefront of extreme poverty reduction over the past two decades. The Brookings report says that China has now reduced the number of its citizens living in extreme poverty into the single digits, and that going forward, “the baton has been passed to India.”
From there, Brookings says sub-Saharan African faces the largest extreme poverty gap.
So what stands in the way of fully eliminating this most extreme form of poverty?
Brookings says there are two major factors as they look ahead to 2030. First, as countries like China make progress in eliminating poverty, they will become satisfied with the progress already made and will lack incentives to complete the job. And secondly, in the most greatly affected regions of the world, populations of extreme poverty will begin to condense, making it all the more challenging to see economic improvements.