New York Times: Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds
WASHINGTON — A World Bank report shows a broad reduction in extreme poverty — and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists’ expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world.
The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty — on less than $1.25 a day — fell in every developing region from 2005 to 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate.
The progress is so drastic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline. ...
... The report contained a raft of statistics showing broad declines in poverty throughout the 2000s. For the first time since the World Bank started keeping statistics in 1981, poverty fell in every region of the world on a three-year timeframe. In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty fell below 50 percent for the first time. And between 1981 and 2008, poverty fell to just less than a quarter of the developing world’s population from more than half .
Much of the story was about China, which moved nearly 700 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2008, with the proportion of its population living in extreme poverty falling to 13 percent from 84 percent during that period. The country’s annual pace of economic growth never dipped below 9 percent, even in 2009, when the world’s economy contracted.
But perhaps the most surprising success story is sub-Saharan Africa, where the proportion of people living in extreme poverty actually increased through the 1990s, before declining in the 2000s.
“People used to worry, ‘Is Africa going to be poor forever?’ ” said Mr. Kenny of the Center for Global Development. “Well, it doesn’t really look like it, does it?”
Extreme poverty in the Middle East and North Africa fell to just 2.7 percent in 2008 from 4.2 percent in 2002. And extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa fell to 47.5 percent in 2008 from 55.7 percent in 2002. ...