“Extreme Poverty” is currently defined as an individual living on less than $1.25 per day. Using this benchmark, in 1990 47% of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty. As of today, that figure has dropped dramatically, now approaching 10%. The UN identifies the first of its “Sustainable Development Goals” as the elimination of extreme poverty by 2030.
Much of the progress in reducing extreme poverty is thanks to efforts in five countries: China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam. These countries alone moved an astonishing 700 million citizens out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010. Unfortunately, in Africa during the same period, the number of people in extreme poverty rose from 290 to 414 million people.
The task of eliminating extreme poverty gets progressively harder the closer we get to zero. Those still in extreme poverty are generally in rural or remote areas, lacking electricity, sanitation, transportation, internet, or other fundamental services.
While the number of people in “extreme poverty” is dropping, it is important to remember that most of the planet is still extremely poor. About half of the planet lives on less than $2.50 per day.