Extreme poverty rates have fallen worldwide to a record low of 10 percent, according to a preliminary report from the World Bank. The latest data gathered from 2013 to 2015 showed the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day went down by 68 million, to 736 million globally.
Poverty decreased everywhere in the world except in the Middle East and North Africa, the heartland of Islam and a hotbed of regional wars and conflicts such as those in Yemen, Libya, and Syria.
Despite global improvements—nearly half of all countries now have poverty rates below 3 percent—the gains may be slowing down. The rate dropped from 11 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2015. The slowdown raises serious concerns about whether the World Bank can reach its targeted goal of “less than 3 percent of the world living in extreme poverty by 2030.”
In contrast to current rates, from 1990 to 2013, the world’s extreme poverty rate fell faster, almost an average of 1 percentage point each year, falling from nearly 36 percent to 11 percent. A preliminary World Bank forecast for 2018 is for an extreme poverty decline to 8.6 percent.
But sub-Saharan developing countries’ poverty may continue in double digits even through 2030, the report warns, given conflicts, economic challenges, and falling prices for commodities.
The full World Bank report is set to be released on Oct. 17. —Rob Holmes