News / Africa

Where Do the World’s Poor Live?

Poverty in Nigeria.
Poverty in Nigeria.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
Most of the world’s poor do not live in poor countries. New research says nearly 80 percent are actually in middle-income countries. Two billion poor people – those who live on $2 a day or less – live in middle-income countries. That compares to 500 million in low-income countries.

The study was led by Andy Sumner, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

“Many countries over the last decade, in particular, have gotten much better off in average income. But poverty hasn’t fallen as much as one might expect or hope. All of this speaks to a lot of the current debates about the rising importance of inequality around the world and whether debates around the U.N. poverty goals that are due for renewal of some kind in 2015 – whether issues about inequality – ought to have much higher focus,” he said.

One of the Millennium Development Goals calls for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. The U.N. has said the global economic crisis of recent years has slowed progress. Since the crisis, it said, “more workers find themselves and their families living in extreme poverty.”

Sumner said even if a country has economic growth of five to six percent it can have little effect on those earning only a dollar or two a day.

“The poor may well be living in remote areas or low income areas well away from the capital or large cities. They may also be in social groups that are discriminated against or there may be internal regulations or substantial costs of migrating across the country,” he said.

Sumner said half of the world’s poor live in India and China; one quarter live in heavily populated middle-income countries, such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia. The rest are in low-income countries.

“If you look over the last 20 years, although at a global level the proportion of the world’s population in poverty has fallen a lot, it’s actually about the same in absolute numbers, partly because of population growth, when one excludes China,” he said.

But where will the world’s poor live in 2020 or 2030? Sumner said that half of the world’s poor could still be in middle-income countries. He warns that figure could rise if the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen.

He estimated the cost of eliminating extreme poverty to be about 60 to 80 billion dollars a year. That’s about 0.3 percent of the world’s GDP, or gross domestic product, which is the value of final goods and services produced in countries.

Sumner said that with the “distribution of global poverty away from the poorest countries to middle-income countries, a new approach to understanding and tackling extreme poverty is required.” He added that this includes a more equitable distribution of the “benefits of economic growth and public spending… on the chronic, long-term poor wherever they live.”

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid