Worldwide, fewer people live in extreme poverty

Good news: The number of people living in extreme poverty in 2010 was half that of 1990.

By Kathryn Reid. Photo by Eugene Lee.
Published March 13, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

The latest figures from the World Bank show the Millennium Development Goal of halving global poverty by 2015 was achieved five years early. The number of people living in extreme poverty in 2010 was half that of 1990.

Spread of extreme poverty reversed

Even as food prices rose and the world slipped into an economic crisis during 2008, the population living on less than $1.25 a day was declining in every region of the world. Since then, the long-term rate of poverty reduction has continued.

The decreased poverty rate in China is a significant contributor to the overall lower rate; since the early 1980s, China’s economic growth has taken 660 million people off the poverty rolls.

Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe have all reversed the spread of extreme poverty. For the first time, fewer than half of Africans live in extreme poverty.

However, more can be done. The number of people living below $2 a day — the median poverty line for developing countries — has dropped only slightly from 2.59 billion 1981 to 2.47 billion in 2008.

‘We can achieve great things’

In announcing the success of global efforts to fight poverty, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of “focused financing and partnerships for development.”

“When we pull together, we can achieve great things,” he said. 

The eight Millennium Development Goals are a global plan for reducing extreme poverty and the incidence of diseases while increasing access to education and healthcare.

Three ways you can help

Thank God for this progress in reducing poverty around the world. Pray that the trend would continue.

Fund a microloan for a hardworking entrepreneur. A sustainable approach to reducing poverty, microloans help recipients create or expand their businesses and empower them to work toward creating a healthy, prosperous community. As the endeavor succeeds, the recipient repays the loan, which is then recycled to help someone else who shares similar circumstances.

Speak out. Ask Congress to support the International Affairs Budget, which funds life-saving interventions around the world. Making up only about 1 percent of the entire budget, our contribution plays a significant role in in attaining this goal and is also critical for maintaining this trend.