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Extreme Poverty Is Reaching an All-Time Low

For the first time ever, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent in 2015.

Projections from the World Bank show the poverty rate falling to single digits—from 12.8 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent. This means the world is making strides toward ending extreme poverty by 2030, which is a part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Extreme poverty” refers to conditions where people lack basic necessities—as opposed to “relative poverty,” where someone’s income falls below the general standard of living.
According to the report, the “international extreme poverty line” is now a whopping $1.90 a day, which is up from a previous standard of $1.25 a day in 2005 in order reflect rising food costs, as well as clothing and shelter needs.

Dramatic victories in the fight against poverty are happening all around the world. In East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank estimates that the rate fell from 7.2 percent to 4.1 percent; in South Asia, poverty fell from 18.8 percent to 13.5 percent; and in sub-Saharan Africa, it fell from 42.6 percent to 35.2 percent.

Still, parts of the world—like the Middle East—are so impoverished that the World Bank couldn’t make projections because of a lack of information.

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And while this report shows significant progress, the World Bank’s report is clear that extreme poverty is an ongoing and complex problem—particularly in Africa.

For example, in parts of Africa, the rich population is growing, but most Africans still make less than $10 a day, and the poorest people are kept from the middle class.
And with about half of the world’s poor concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, the continent as a whole lags behind the rest of the world.

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