How many people still live in poverty?

When the Millennium Development Goals reached their formal conclusion in 2015, there was a full review of the goals and whether or not they were achieved. Goal 1.A was one of the success stories. Not only did the world halve the number of people living on less $1.25 a day, it did so five years ahead of the deadline. That’s great of course, but it doesn’t mean the end of poverty.

If I was living on £1 a day, and my circumstances improved ever so slightly and I got an extra 10p a day, I wouldn’t consider my problems solved. I’d have a few things to say to anyone suggesting I had been ‘lifted out of poverty’.

There are still 800 million people living on less than $1.25 a day, which is appalling. But that’s an extremely low and mostly arbitrary line. Move the benchmark to a more realistic measure of poverty, and it gets worse – at $2.5o a day we’re talking about 2.7 billion people. Add a dollar more and we’re approaching half the world’s population.

In other words, half the world still lives in extreme poverty. That’s easy to forget if we just focus on the absolute poorest. We have a long way to go.

Here’s a graph from the book Reducing Global Poverty that shows the poverty headcount at several different levels, and projects the change in the decades to come. In the year 2040, half of the world is likely to be taking home less than $10 a day.

Of course, we want everyone to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life, to reach their full potential and get an honest day’s wages. But when you consider how many people there are to raise up to anything like the Western standard of living, the environmental challenge should be obvious. Delivering that level of wealth to one billion people has brought side effects such as climate change and the 6th global extinction event. It can’t be universalized.

And that begs a question: are we content with a two tier world, or are we prepared to lower our own ecological impact to make room for others?

— source

Millennium Development Goals

Target 1.A:
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25 a day

The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.
More than 1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990.
In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 14 per cent in 2015.
At the global level more than 800 million people are still living in extreme poverty.

Target 1.B:
Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Globally, 300 million workers lived below the $1.25 a day poverty line in 2015.
The global employment-to-population ratio – the proportion of the working-age population that is employed – has fallen from 62 per cent in 1991 to 60 per cent in 2015, with an especially significant downturn during the global economic crisis of 2008/2009.
Only four in ten young women and men aged 15-24 are employed in 2015, compared with five in ten in 1991.

Target 1.C:
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

The proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990.
Globally, about 795 million people are estimated to be undernourished.
More than 90 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.

— source


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