Global poverty rates down 20 percent since 1990, but progress is uneven

Poverty rates have declined in most regions, except for the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia. The greatest number of poor people live in South Asia, but the proportion of poor is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, where civil conflict, slow economic growth, and the spread of HIV/AIDS have left millions at the margins of survival.

Income is not the only measure of poverty. The poor lack education. They suffer from malnutrition and poor health. They are vulnerable to natural disasters and to crime, and they lack political freedom and voice. But in a world where 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, obtaining less than $1 a day, increasing economic opportunities is fundamental.

Over the past decade, the proportion of people in extreme poverty declined more in some regions than in others. In East Asia, especially in China, poverty rates have declined fast enough to meet the goal in 2015. Most other regions could achieve the goal, if economic growth continues and income distributions do not worsen. But Sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind, and in some countries poverty rates have worsened.

National estimates of poverty reflect differences in measurement and expectations.
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10 - 19%
30 - 39%
no data available

Standards for measuring poverty differ between countries and sometimes between regions of the same country. The poverty line may be set in terms of a minimum consumption level or by comparison with the overall distribution of income. Although international comparisons of poverty attempt to apply a uniform standard, many local factors determine how poor a person really is.

Malnutrition--another dimension of poverty.
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less than 10
40 or more
no data available

Malnutrition--another dimension of poverty

Malnutrition in children is measured by comparing their weight or height against standards for their age. There are estimated to be 150 million underweight children in the developing world. Reducing malnutrition will require more than income. Mothers' education and adequate healthcare are important too.

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