Extreme Poverty Down Globally, Up in U.S.
March 7, 2012
by Lauren Feeney
First, the good news. A World Bank report released last week shows that extreme poverty is on the decline. The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day decreased in every region of the developing world between 2005 and 2008. The fall was so steep that the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty has been met before the 2015 deadline.
This is contrary to the World Bank’s own prediction that the global financial crisis would lead to “a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world’s most vulnerable.”
But, as The New York Times explains, market conditions actually favored developing countries during the recession.
Economists had theorized that the credit crunch and recession would cause a flight to the safety of developed nations. But shortly after the recession, with growth stagnating in countries like the United States and in western Europe, the world’s investors plowed money into emerging markets.
China was the biggest success story — the ranks of the dire poor there decreased by 700 million between 1981 and 2008.
The bad news hits closer to home. The World Bank study doesn’t even bother to measure poverty rates in developed countries such as the U.S., Western Europe and Japan. But a new study from The National Poverty Center shows that the number of U.S. households living in extreme poverty (defined here as less than $2 a day per person) more than doubled from 1996 to 2011. The number of extremely poor children also doubled during that time, from 1.4 million to 2.8 million.
MORE via Extreme Poverty Down Globally, Up in U.S. | Connecting the Dots, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com.
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