Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Global poverty rates are down

Tim Taylor points to a briefing note by Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion which indicates progress in global poverty reduction. The graphic captures the decline in poverty levels during the 1981-2008 period.

Looking back to the early 1980s, East Asia was the region with the highest incidence of poverty in the world, with 77% living below $1.25 a day in 1981. By 2008 this had fallen to 14%. In China alone, 662 million fewer people living in poverty by the $1.25 standard... In 2008, 13% (173 million people) of China’s population still lived below $1.25 a day. In the developing world outside China, the $1.25 poverty rate has fallen from 41% to 25% over 1981-2008, though not enough to bring down the total number of poor, which was around 1.1 billion in both 1981 and 2008... The $1.25 a day poverty rate has fallen in South Asia from 61% to 36% between 1981 and 2008. The proportion of poor is lower now in South Asia than any time since 1981.

But on the $2 a day basis, 70.9% of South Asia's population were living below the poverty line, down only marginallty from the 87.2% in 1981. On both poverty counts, a much greater proportion of Chinese were living below the poverty line in 1981. However, as the graphics below indicate, on both poverty standards, by the beginning of 1990s, China had overtaken India.

India's poverty rate reduction has been far slower than China's, reflective of the trickle-down, redistribution-driven economic growth strategy pursued by it.

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