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Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle

December 2019 — By The World Bank Group

Five years ago, the World Bank Group set two overarching goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030, and to promote shared prosperity by boosting the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population in each country.
As this year’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report documents, the world continues to make progress toward eliminating poverty. In 2015, approximately one-tenth of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty—the lowest poverty rate in recorded history. This is an impressive achievement, considering that in 1990, more than a third of people on earth lived in extreme poverty. Since we last reported on global poverty two years ago, the number of poor has diminished by 68 million.
But we cannot take success for granted. Poverty is on the rise in several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in fragile and conflict-affected situations. In many countries, the bottom 40 percent of the population is getting left behind; in some countries, the living standard of the poorest 40 percent is actually declining. To reach our goal of bringing extreme
poverty below 3 percent by 2030, the world’s poorest countries must grow at a rate that far surpasses their historical experience. There is no room for complacency. We must intensify the effort to promote economic growth in the lagging countries and ensure that the poorest 40 percent of the population benefits more from economic progress.
Reducing extreme poverty to less than 3 percent by 2030 remains a considerable challenge, and it will continue to be our focus. At the same time, most of the world’s poor now live in middle-income countries, and our research indicates that those countries tend to have a more demanding view of poverty. Drawing on national poverty lines, we now also report poverty rates at two higher thresholds—$3.20 per day and $5.50 per day—which are typical of standards in lower- and upper-middle-income countries.