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36 Poverty Facts & Statistics

Many people worldwide live extremely poor without support, on the sidelines. Nations in the developing world suffer tremendously on human development indicators such as health, food, funds, work, education, and mortality. While poverty statistics may seem bleak, we continue to push, and many initiatives exist to reduce poverty worldwide. These poverty facts highlight all you need to know about global poverty. 

General poverty facts

#1 - Extreme global poverty rose for the first time in 20 years in 20201

#2 - 120m more people now face living in poverty due to the pandemic1

#3 - The global rate of extreme poverty extreme in 2015 was 10.1%, but in 2017 it fell to 9.2%2

Poverty Lines

A considerable percentage of the world's population lived below the international poverty line in 2015, and this number was reduced in 2017. These figures likely remained the same or increased for the poorest countries.

While at the same time, over the last year, we've witnessed a steady reduction turn into a rise in global poverty due to the impacts of COVID-19, a reduction in economic growth, and climate change.

#4 - About 689 million of the world's population lives on less than $1.90 a day2

According to the international poverty line classification, a considerable percentage of the number falling into extreme poverty will be in middle-income countries. Extreme poverty will happen to rural and urban areas. 

#5 - 24.1% of the world population live on less than $3.202

This is the start of a new poverty narrative, bringing the world's plight into higher poverty lines. In contrast to other regions where selected countries have ongoing issues with poverty reduction, there will be an increase in the absolute number of impoverished nations. 

#6 - 70% of poor people worldwide aged 15 years and above have no education or basic education2

Children in poverty are over-represented, and the figures are exceptionally high for children in their teenage ages. Very high percentages of impoverished households contain children in many countries, and these children lack education. 

The Geography of Global Poverty

UK Poverty Facts
Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

#7 - 22% of the UK population lives in poverty4 

The poverty threshold in the UK has not changed in terms of relative poverty over the last decade. Since the last global economic crisis, researchers report the rates flattening, which will most likely not remain so because of the 2020 global pandemic. 

#8 - Almost half of the poor people in sub-Saharan Africa live in just five countries2

Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Madagascar is home to half of the world's extremely poor people. These countries have both the highest rates of the world's poor living in extreme poverty with food insecurity at just under 50 percent, and the largest share of the world's extremely poor people, at just over 50 percent. 

#9 - 82% of poor people live in middle-income countries2

A huge number of people live below the extreme poverty line in middle-income countries. Analysis measuring global poverty shows that this figure will increase, and people who are above the extreme deep poverty line may find themselves below it by 2021. 

Poverty Facts Conflict & Fragility

#10 - More than 40% of poor people worldwide live in economies affected by fragility, conflict, and violence2

Countries that have escaped fragility, conflict, and violence have cut their poverty rates by more than half. Extreme poverty is becoming more entrenched in fragile situations while it is rapidly declining in others. Poverty facts like this show that a person living in a nation facing chronic fragility and conflict is ten times more likely to be poor than a person living in a country that hasn't suffered conflict or fragility in the past 20 years. 

#11 - The share of Africans living in poverty fell from 54% in 1990 to 41% in 20155

#12 - Despite the reduction in the percentage of Africans living in poverty in 2015, the actual number of poor people in Africa has increased from 278 million to 413 million between 1990 and 20155

Poverty while working in the West

#13 - There are nearly 4 million workers in the UK living in poverty4

Low pay is one of the key drivers of poverty. The majority of low-paid workers live in households where other people do not earn any money, increasing the family poverty line. 

In the last five years, workers in the UK living in poverty have risen by over half a million. Taking into account people's incomes, housing and mortgage costs, childcare, costs associated with disability, and accessible savings. This leaves the workers with very little to spend on other basic needs. 

#14 - 20% of part-time workers in the UK live in poverty4

Poverty is not distributed randomly across the population. Part-time workers have far higher poverty rates than others.

#15 - A working parent is over 1.5 times more likely to live in poverty than a non-working parent4

United States

#16 - 12.8% of workers between the ages of 15 and 24 lived in poverty in 20196

#17 - 6.3% of workers over the age of 24 lived in poverty in 20196

In the United States, workers between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest official poverty measure, while people between the ages of 64 and 75 have the lowest poverty rate.

Working poverty (extreme and moderate) is common among young people and increasingly exposes them to non-standard, informal, and less secure forms of employment. 

The Supplemental Poverty Measure records 9.1% of Americans in poverty after considering living expenses such as food, healthcare, and utilities 7. The good news is that this is the lowest rate since this measure was first recorded by the US census bureau in 2009.

Over half of those close to or below the federal poverty line reported food insecurity.

#18 - As of 2019, about 13.3% of employed women lived less than $1.90 a day6

This report on poverty facts reveals that working‐age women are more likely than men to be poor when they have dependent children and no partner to contribute to the household income. Women in developing countries are more likely than men to be poor at older ages, particularly when living in one‐person households. 

#19 - About 132 million poor people worldwide live in areas with high flood risk2

People in low-lying and densely populated communities are by far the most exposed to flood risks. 

#20 - 1.5 million people in the UK were destitute at some point during 20174

These people lacked Shelter, food, heat, light, clothing, and a low income that they could not depend on per day. Three-quarters of those in destitution were born in the UK, and rates are highest in northern English and Scottish cities and some London boroughs.

#21 - More than 1 in 4 workers in the poorest fifth of the UK experience depression and anxiety4

Major depression and anxiety are most likely to affect adults in the poorest fifth of households than adults in the fifth of households in the world's wealthiest countries.

Child poverty facts

Child Poverty Facts
Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash

#22 - Half of the poor globally are children2

#23 - 356 million children live in extreme poverty3

#24 - The poverty rate of children at the $3.20 line is 41.5%3

#25 - The poverty rate of children at the $5.50 line is 66.7%3

Millions of children in the world live in households that barely have food items or enough funds to cater to these children. 

The number of children in poverty makes up around a third of the total percent of the world. Poverty statistics reveal that 1 in 6 children live in extreme poverty, and most of these children live in extremely poor households. 

Child Poverty around the world

#26 - Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds of extremely poor children worldwide3

Two-thirds of the most vulnerable children living in households with limited social safety nets are affected by extreme poverty. These households struggle to survive on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person, meaning they often cannot provide basic necessities.

#27 - In the UK, 4.1 million children live in poverty4

Recent stats show that many children in the UK belong to a family with relatively low income or absolute low income. That's 30% of children on the relative measure and 26% of children on the absolute measure. Around 70% of children in low income live in a household where someone works, on either measure.

#28 - South Asia accounts for 18 percent of extremely poor children worldwide3

This makes it the second-largest region with children living in extreme poverty. At the same time, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for two-thirds of extremely poor children, with most of them suffering from malnutrition. 

Poverty future projections

#29 - The percentage of poor people worldwide living in economies affected by fragility, conflict, and violence is expected to rise to 67% in the next decade2

This will threaten, change and reverse decades of advancements in poverty measures focused on reduction and development. There's little doubt we'll need to work harder to eliminate poverty.

#30 - The COVID-19 pandemic is projected to push 88 million to 115 million more people into extreme poverty2

#31 - Over 703 million people worldwide are projected to live in extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic2

The pandemic has had a profound impact on people living in poverty. It pushed more people into hunger and unemployment. It will cause severe long-term impacts and a historic reversal in trends addressing poverty moving in the right direction. 

Poverty and Climate

#32 - Climate change is estimated to drive 68 million to 132 million people into absolute poverty by 20302

This is a grave threat to countries that are already hotspots for the poor. There will be an increase in such populated areas. 

#33 - Southern Asia will likely see the most significant increase in extreme poverty, with an additional 32 million people6

In 2015 there was a drop in the number of Asians in global poverty, but with recent happenings, this trend will reverse and increase due to the economic slump lasting into 2021. 

Africa & Poverty

#34 - Sub-Saharan Africa will likely see the second-largest increase in extreme poverty, with an additional 26 million people6

The largest increase in global poverty come 2021 will happen in this region, and this is a result of the pandemic. An increase in deprived and marginalized people is happening as nothing is done to stop the rise. The number of deprived and marginalized people will continue to increase if actions are not taken.

#35 - Global poverty is expected to become increasingly African, rising from 55% in 2015 to 90% by 20305

More than 1 billion people will become extremely poor in Africa. People who live in this region will experience a double increase in the poverty rate by 2030. 

#36 - Current trends show that the poverty rate is expected to decline to 23% by 20305

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

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