Saturday, March 10, 2012

UN global poverty reduction goal met ... five years early!

A new World Bank report on global poverty is so positive it even surprised me. The key points:

  1. Dire poverty continues to fall worldwide. No surprise there.

  2. But this happened even despite the recent global recession. I had expected the recession might cause at least a small blip in the progress of poverty reduction, but it barely even registered.

  3. I hope you're aware of the UN's Millennium Development Goals that were set a few years ago, with 8 hugely ambitious global goals in the areas of poverty, health, equality, etc. The world has been making good progress on them, with the deadline being 2015. Well, the goal to cut global extreme poverty in half was just met ... 5 years early.

  4. This means that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty is now less than half of what it was in the year 1990.

  5. (Actually, the goal was met in 2008 if you use the original definition of extreme poverty - living on less than $1 a day. That line was adjusted to $1.25 a day; this revised goal that was met in 2010.)

  6. In 1981, 42% of the developing world lived on less than $1 a day. In 1990, that was down to 31%. By 2008 it was only 14%.

  7. In 1981, 70% of the developing world lived on less than $2 a day. In 1990, that was down to 65%. By 2008 it was down to 43%.

  8. The most dramatic progress was made in East Asia. According to the World Bank, "Looking back to the early 1980s, East Asia was the region with the highest incidence of poverty in the world, with 77% living below $1.25 a day in 1981. By 2008 this had fallen to 14%"

  9. Our ability to get accurate data on all this stuff keeps improving.

Most of those people who are no longer living in extreme poverty are still very poor by our standards. But we can now see how it's possible to make a difference - we just have to keep up the good work.

Sources: World Bank (pdf), NYTimes, Wikipedia