About 1.5 Billion People Are No Longer Living In Extreme Poverty


It is getting a bit difficult to find any good news concerning the global economy these days.

From Brexit’s effect on world markets to the economic slowdown in China and even closer to home, how some African countries have been marked for a recession by the International Monetary Fund, you could be forgiven for supposing that there is indeed no good news to be found.

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Extreme poverty is defined as people surviving each day on $1.90 in purchasing power adjusted US dollars, a phenomenon almost impossible to comprehend if you are even a little more fortunate.

According to data compiled by Oxford economic researcher Max Roser, the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped sharply over the last half century.

Extreme poverty

In 1970, the number of people living in extreme poverty had peaked at more than 2.2 billion and in the time since then, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen to about 710 million. This means that about 1.5 billion people have emerged from those rather bleak conditions.

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The data shows a significant achievement for the world but most of the praise really belongs at the feet of China. In 1981, roughly 880 million Chinese lived on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank statistics.

By 2010, that was down to roughly 150 million, a decline of nearly 730 million people, thanks to China’s breakneck economic growth.

Extreme poverty

Quartz says that this is both good and bad news, depending on where you are standing. This is because China rushed into the global economy and consequently halted the progress of other countries or cities who were involved in sectors that were in direct competition with China.

The US, for instance, lost 1 million manufacturing jobs because of China between 1991 and 2011.

Extreme poverty

Former World Bank economics Branko Milanovic argues in his recent book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, that this is not just a US phenomenon.

Since the 1980s, incomes have surged for some of the world’s poorest people—largely in China and other Asian nations. But at the same time, the lower-middle classes in the world’s richer countries have seen their incomes largely stagnate.

Be that as it may, the world has to continue pushing for eradication of poverty and a higher rate of income equality. 710 million people is still a large number of people to be living in such dire straits.