World's poorest: Fewer despite economic slump

NEW YORK • The number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than 100 million across the world despite a sluggish global economy.

The World Bank says 767 million people were living on less than US$1.90 (S$2.60) a day in 2013, its latest comprehensive data, down from 881 million people the previous year, with the strongest income rises in Asia.

"It is remarkable that countries have continued to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity at a time when the global economy is underperforming," Mr Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank's president, said on Sunday.

The new figures confirm progress made in helping the poor over the past quarter century. The world has nearly 1.1 billion fewer poor in 2013 than in 1990, despite population growth, the World Bank said.

Poverty reduction was driven mainly by countries in East Asia and the Asia Pacific, particularly China, Indonesia and India, it said.

The findings bring the world closer to the United Nations' goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

The target is part of the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals to combat poverty, inequality and climate change.

But meeting that target will also mean tackling persistent inequality, the bank said.

"Meeting the international community's targets by 2030 will actually require that the world takes on inequality and it makes growth more inclusive," Mr Francisco Ferreira, senior adviser on the World Bank's Development Research Group, said.

Income inequality had widened over the 25 years to 2013, the bank said. Still, latest data show inequality has lessened in more than 40 countries, including Brazil, Peru, Mali and Cambodia.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for half of those living in extreme poverty, according to the bank. A third of the global poor live in South Asia.

Last year, the bank said the number of people living in extreme poverty was likely to fall for the first time below 10 per cent of the world's population.

The recipe for success is generally the same according to the bank: maintaining macroeconomic stability and low inflation; ensuring labour markets function well so that growth translates into jobs and jobs into wages; economic diversification; building manufacturing and service industries on top of farming; and having proactive social policies like healthcare and education.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'World's poorest: Fewer despite economic slump'. Print Edition | Subscribe