Poverty doubled, same or halved?

There is a lot of talk about poverty in new Zealand, and dispute about measures of poverty, levels of poverty and trends.

What about the world – in the last twenty years has extreme poverty remained about the same, doubled or halved?

In the New York Times Nicholas Kristof looks at attitudes on this in the US.

One survey found that two-thirds of Americans believed that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believed that the proportion had remained roughly the same.

That’s 95 percent of Americans — who are utterly wrong

So just about everyone was wrong.

In fact, the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty hasn’t doubled or remained the same.

It has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank).

So a significant reduction in world poverty that most US Americans are unaware of.

Kristof also detailed:

• The number of extremely poor people (defined as those earning less than $1 or $1.25 a day, depending on who’s counting) rose inexorably until the middle of the 20th century, then roughly stabilized for a few decades. Since the 1990s, the number of poor has plummeted.

• In 1990, more than 12 million children died before the age of 5; this toll has since dropped by more than half.

• More kids than ever are becoming educated, especially girls. In the 1980s, only half of girls in developing countries completed elementary school; now, 80 percent do.

The world’s best-kept secret is that we live at a historic inflection point when extreme poverty is retreating.

“We live at a time of the greatest development progress among the global poor in the history of the world,” notes Steven Radelet, a development economist and Georgetown University professor, in a terrific book coming in November, “The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World.”

“The next two decades can be even better and can become the greatest era of progress for the world’s poor in human history,” Radelet writes.

Alongside these improvements birthrates are dropping significantly. Countries like Germany and Japan have birthrates that are so low their populations would shrink without immigration. But it’s not just in developed countries.

Haitian women now average 3.1 children; in 1985, they had six.

In Bangladesh, women now average 2.2 children.

Indonesians, 2.3.

When the poor know that their children will survive, when they educate their daughters, when they access family planning, they have fewer children.

So there’s some very promising trends. What now?

So let’s get down to work and, on our watch, defeat extreme poverty worldwide. We know that the challenges are surmountable — because we’ve already turned the tide of history.

Eliminating most poverty and limiting population growth are attainable goals this century. Maybe in the first half of this century.

Leave a comment

28 Comments

  1. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    All that so called drop in poverty rates is China, where subsistence farming and recurrent bouts of mass starvation have been replaced with factory work and massive environmental damage. Hardly a good news story:

    Reply
    • Industrialisation has caused problems in many countries over the past two hundred years.

      China is not the only country making rapid changes. India is another prominent example.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  4th October 2015

      Tosh. Almost all of Asia has been climbing out of poverty and the mass migrations to work in the cities shows you how the peasants themselves are voting with their feet. I see you place environmental purity over human happiness but you can relax about that as well since the better off the nation the better it will look after its environment.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  4th October 2015

        We don’t know where that photo was taken. It looks like a recycling place to me, Unless we know, though, it’s pointless to show it.Even if it’s the town dump, that tells us nothing except that other countries have dumps as well as ours.

        Reply
      • kiwi_guy

         /  4th October 2015

        Reply
  2. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    And world population is rocketing towards 9 billion possibly 12 billion – so many, no one is even sure anymore.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  4th October 2015

      No one ever could be sure. So you don’t like humans? Tough.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  4th October 2015

        It seems to be about 7.25 billion now. I know that it can’t be 100% accurate, but it’s hard to believe that it would be as far out as that. 12 billion is almost twice the recognised figure, and it surely can’t be as wildly inaccurate as that.

        Reply
        • kiwi_guy

           /  4th October 2015

          Why don’t you go take a look at the population info then, its not that hard.

          Reply
      • kiwi_guy

         /  4th October 2015

        For real? Tell us all about how the population explosion is actually really really awesome!

        Are you Catholic?

        Reply
        • Current estimated world population: 7,371,374,610

          The annual growth rate is currently declining and is projected to continue to decline in the coming years. Currently, it is estimated that it will become less than 1% by 2020 and less than 0.5% by 2050.

          This means that world population will continue to grow in the 21st century, but at a slower rate compared to the recent past. World population has doubled (100% increase) in 40 years from 1959 (3 billion) to 1999 (6 billion). It is now estimated that it will take a further 39 years to increase by another 50%, to become 9 billion by 2038.

          The latest United Nations projections indicate that world population will reach 10 billion persons in the year 2056 (six years earlier than previously estimated).

          http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#growthrate

          http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/

          Reply
          • kiwi_guy

             /  4th October 2015

            Exactly, hitting the mid century target even faster than they thought and then to the end of the century its up to 12 billion.

            What people dont get is the power of exponential growth. The acceleration maybe slowing but the growth % is on a MASSIVE base so even 1 – 2% is adding the population of Germany EVERY YEAR to this overcrowded rock.

            The reality is its all going to come to a head well before we hit those numbers.

            Another 1.5 billion people in sub Saharan Africa in the next 30 years? – that area is already a basket case.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th October 2015

              Africa has been a basket case for centuries. Not because of population increase but because of appalling governance and bad ideas. Until both are fixed millions will continue to die there. If they ever are, death and birth rates will plummet and wealth will bring health and environmental improvements.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  4th October 2015

          Far from Catholic, just rational and unmoved by alarmist claptrap.

          Reply
  3. kittycatkin

     /  4th October 2015

    I’d have thought it was the same, and I’m glad to be wrong about this.

    The thing where people in the West make a parade of living on $2 a day because x% of the world does this is meaningless. We don’t know what that $2 buys those people. It must be enough to live on, even if not enough to live on well, and I am certain that $2 in a third world country would go a lot further that it does in the West.

    Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  4th October 2015

    Politicians use ‘official stats’ to confirm their agenda.. often not anything like reality. I’ve often heard ‘Team Key’ using the ‘average wage’ figures to show that the economy is a ‘rock star’.. but they should use the ‘median’ figure; because estimates are that 10% of the wealthiest own/control 90% of the total !
    Someone once said ‘believe half of what you see & nothing of what you hear’ (esp. regarding ‘political spin’)

    Reply
    • kiwi_guy

       /  4th October 2015

      Seems there are some muppets on here who think Red Capitalism is absolutely fab, one even thought she could pretend one pic was “just the local tip”, LOL:

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th October 2015

        There is one Muppet in here who thinks despite every statistic showing the world is getting better it is going to hell in a handcart.

        Reply
  5. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    Reply
  6. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    Reply
  7. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  4th October 2015

      Some people must live their lives, with their ‘heads in the sand’.. OR with the attitude I’m alright… I don’t care about anyone else ! 😦
      They forget that regardless of their delusions.. we are all interconnected; breathing the same air, drinking the same water & sinking deeper & DEEPER in the same SHIT ! 😦

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th October 2015

        Drivel. Sixty years ago our rivers ran red with freezing works effluent or grey from pulp and paper mills. Our skies were grey with smog and raw sewage discharged straight into rivers and seas turned our lead-based paints black with sulphurous gases emitted by decaying algae and sea lettuce. Our water was untreated and our fruit and vegetables were sprayed with DDT and malathion. You have no idea, just like that scaremongering clown, Mike Joy, who is so ignorant of the past he has no perspective on the present.

        Reply
  8. Mike C

     /  4th October 2015

    I would have thought that poverty was still much the same, purely based upon what we see on the news, and the number of adverts that we see on the telly from organisation’s such as Save the Children.

    Just goes to show how much the media can influence our perception of certain things.

    Reply
  9. John Schmidt

     /  4th October 2015

    I measure poverty by the number of cafes and coffee carts. There can be only 1 reason why we have an explosion of cafes and coffee carts. There is a growing middle & upper class who are filling these businesses spending discretionary dollars.
    There are more and more people finding themselves with money to spend at cafes and coffee carts which tells me that those less fortunate have been able to break out using opportunities that present themselves in the work place that gives them discretionary dollars. Hence in my view this is telling me poverty is reducing in NZ.

    Reply

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