Many people working on poverty issues are sceptical of the measures used by the World Bank, based on poverty lines of $1.25 or $2 a day. While the figures can’t be taken at face value, it’s doubtful that income at that level can be ‘measured’, very low incomes do tell us two things: that lots of people are poor, and that as there is almost no money they are probably not part of a formal economy either.
A short statistical report from the World Bank, The state of the poor, flags up some interesting issues. The first is that extreme poverty by their measure is falling in most parts of the world, with the clear exception of Sub Saharan Africa, Second, while a third of the poorest people are in Sub Saharan Africa, and a third more are in one country – not China, which has 13% of the poorest people, but India. (I missed the World Bank report when it came out, but the Times of India didn’t.) The Millennium Development Goals aimed to cut extreme poverty by half, and that has been done; the next goal is to go for half again by 2030, and these places are where the main focus will fall.