According to new estimates released last week by the World Bank, the world’s poorest people are now concentrated most heavily in Sub-Saharan Africa after China’s huge leap in pulling its citizens out of extreme poverty in recent decades.
About 1.2 billion people in the world lived in extreme poverty in 2010, subsisting on less than $1.25 a day. That’s down from 1.9 billion three decades ago despite a nearly 60% increase in the developing world’s population.
The total number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped in every developing region over the past three decades. About 21% of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day in 2010. In 1981 it was 52%.
The sharpest decline came in China, where the extreme poverty rate fell to 12% in 2010 from 84% in 1981. India’s extreme poverty dropped to 33% of the population from 60% three decades ago.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world in which the total number of poor people has increased, more than doubling to 414 million in 2010 from three decades earlier. The rate of extreme poverty dropped to 48% in 2010 from 51% in 1981. But the tiny improvement compared with other regions meant that 34% of the world’s extreme-poor population came from Sub-Saharan Africa in 2010. In 1981, it was 11%.
China, meanwhile, has gone from 43% of the extreme poor to just 13% over that time period. India, despite substantial improvement in its extreme poverty rate, had 33% of the world’s extreme poor in 2010, up from 22% three decades earlier.
More than three-fourths of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in rural areas, the bank said in a separate report Wednesday. Urbanization has been a key driver in reducing extreme poverty. About half the world’s total population now lives in rural areas.