Extreme poverty is expected to fall to an all-time low this year

We’re one step closer.
We’re one step closer.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
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The World Bank just announced a major global milestone: The number of people living in extreme poverty will likely fall to below 10% in 2015.

“This is the best story in the world today,’’ Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president, said in a statement. “These projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty.”

The latest projections suggest that the extreme poverty rate could fall to single digits—from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%—for the first time. The projections focus on extreme poverty, where people lack the most basic necessities, and not relative poverty, where someone’s income is below the general standard of living.

The report uses an updated international extreme poverty line of US $1.90 a day (from a previous standard of $1.25 a day in 2005 prices), to more accurately reflect the global costs of basic food, clothing, and shelter needs. The bank said the world is now a step closer to ending poverty by 2030, a key target in the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the World’s Bank projections, extreme poverty in East Asia and the Pacific is expected to fall from 7.2% in 2012 (the last year released) to 4.1% in 2015. In South Asia, extreme poverty will fall from 18.8% to 13.5% over that period, while in Sub-Saharan Africa extreme poverty is expected to decline from 42.6% to 35.2% in 2015. The bank was unable to make projections from Middle East and North Africa, because of a lack of accurate data.

While there has been significant progress in ending poverty, the bank notes that further progress would depend on an effective, evidence-based approach. The ranks of the African rich are growing, and some African countries have seen significant economic development, but many of the poor are still blocked from the middle class, and the continent as a whole continues to lag behind the rest of the world. Extreme poverty remains concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, where half of the global poor reside, and South Asia.