Today’s Wall Street Journal reminds me how lucky I am. I coach volleyball for a living. That’s it. Any coach of any sport, no matter how much they make should consider themselves lucky. This is just a subtle reminder that came through my news-feed at my air-conditioned office, on my expensive PC, with my new iPhone in front of me, with a ridiculous desk phone that I never use that costs more than my iPhone, in brand new shoes and gear, and a car sitting right outside my window. How lucky are we?
More Than Billion People Live on Less Than $1.25 a Day
The last three decades have seen unprecedented progress when it comes to reducing extreme poverty around the world—but there’s still an awful lot more to do.
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Roughly 721 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty — defined internationally as living on less than $1.25 a day — between 1981 and 2010, according to a new report by the World Bank released Thursday. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of halving the share of people in extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015—an aim set at a summit in 2000—was reached in 2010, five years early.
But, as the World Bank points out, that still leaves roughly 1.2 billion people completely destitute, including about 400 million children. One of every three extremely poor people is a child under the age of 13. (To put all this in perspective, America’s own poverty line amounts to about $60 a day for a family of four — as the Economist noted in June. People around the world in “extreme poverty” tend to lack enough food to meet basic physical and mental needs.)
The World Bank report zeros in on the relative lack of progress in the world’s 35 “low income” countries — places like Bangladesh, Chad, Haiti and Kenya. Progress in these countries will need to pick up if international goals to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 are to be reached.
Judging from the daily incomes of the extremely poor around the world, extreme poverty is getting less deep. Poverty for middle- and high-income countries — everywhere from Pakistan, Ukraine and the Czech Republic to Chile and Jordan — fell by more than 50% since 1981.
But when you look closely at the recent progress in the developing world, much of it is due to China and, to a lesser extent, India, whose amped-up economic growth in recent years reduced their poverty rates. By contrast, extreme poverty in the 35 “low income” countries — 26 are in Africa — fell by less than 33%. Indeed, the number of extremely poor people in low-income countries actually rose by 103 million between 1981 and 2010. And around half of the children in low-income countries are in extreme poverty.
Aside from China and India, “individuals living in extreme poverty [in the developing world] today appear to be as poor as those living in extreme poverty 30 years ago,” the World Bank said.