- The World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1.90 a day.
- New standards for poverty include those for middle- and high-income countries, at $3.20, $5.50, and $21.70 a day.
- Extreme poverty afflicts some 760 million people worldwide, down from 1.9 billion in 1990.
Living on $1.90 a day might seem impossible in a developed country, but the World Bank estimates that 10.7% of the world’s population, or about 760 million people, face this reality.
These people live in what the World Bank calls “extreme poverty.”
In an attempt to be more precise with its classifications, the organization recently added new standards of poverty for people living in middle- and high-income countries, NPR reports. They are the first additions since the poverty line was initially set in 1990, then at $1 a day.
The new standards are set at $3.20 a day for people in “lower-middle-income” countries, such as Egypt or India, and $5.50 a day for “upper-middle-income” countries, such as Jamaica or South Africa. The World Bank also released a third standard for high-income countries, like the US, at $21.70 a day.
The following chart breaks down the percentage of people living at each level of poverty in countries of varying wealth.
Extreme poverty might seem like an unsolvable problem if 760 million people still face it on a daily basis, but humanity has made huge progress toward uplifting people who have the least. In 1990, some 1.85 billion people qualified as extremely poor. At the time, they represented about 35% of the world’s 5.3 billion people.
The United Nations hopes to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals.
Much of the success is owed to organizations like the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Gates Foundation, which has spent billions over the past decade to alleviate poverty around the world.
One of the hallmarks of this success has been the reduction in a slew of side effects related to poverty, such as hunger, child mortality, maternal mortality, and widespread declines in the world’s deadliest diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Here is a partial list of the countries that qualify as lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income:
Argentina, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mongolia, Tonga, Tunisia, Zambia
Albania, Brazil, Grenada, Iraq, Malaysia, Turkey
Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Sweden, United States, Uruguay