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World Bank: New estimates of global poverty

The World Bank has released new data on global poverty. There are more poor people – extremely poor people - and the incidence of poverty reaches farther into middle-income countries, says the report.

A supplement to the World Development Indicators 2008 presents the latest poverty headcount data produced by the World Bank. These new estimates of global poverty are the first re-evaluation of the World Bank’s “$1 a day” poverty line since 1999. The international poverty line has been recalibrated at $1.25 a day, using new data on purchasing power parities and an expanded set of household income and expenditure surveys.

The report “2008 WORLD DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS Poverty data; A supplement to World Development Indicators 2008” can be downloaded here.

New measurements of the extent and depth of poverty are presented here for 115 developing countries. The $1.25 a day poverty line measured in 2005 prices replaces the $1.08 a day poverty line measured in 1993 prices. Often described as “$1 a day,” $1.08 has been widely accepted as the international standard for extreme poverty and was incorporated in the first of the Millennium Development Goals. That goal calls for eradicating extreme poverty and sets a target of halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day. The new poverty line maintains the same standard for extreme poverty—the poverty line typical of the poorest countries in the world—but updates it using the latest information on the cost of living in developing countries.

The new data change our view of poverty in the world, says the World Bank Report. There are more poor people – extremely poor people - and the incidence of poverty reaches farther into middle-income countries. By the new measurements 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty - more than one-quarter of the population of developing countries.

In 1990, at the beginning of the period tracked by the Millennium Development Goals, 42 percent of the people in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 a day. Over 15 years global poverty fell by an average of 1 percentage point a year. At that rate the target set by the Millennium Development Goals will be surpassed at the global level and in East Asia, where poverty rates have fallen fastest, by 2015. But large differences remain between regions, across countries in the same region, and even within countries.

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