The distribution and trends of global poverty look different depending on what measure of poverty you use. The majority of the global population living in extreme economic poverty, below $1.90/day, live in sub-Saharan Africa and fragile and conflict affected countries.
General Global Trends
While the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has fallen globally in recent decades, poverty rates have increased in several of the most fragile places. It is also in these countries where poverty rates can change significantly in response to shocks, such as climate related disasters or conflict and where social protection systems are less developed to respond quickly to emerging needs.
At the higher poverty line of $3.20 per day, it is estimated that ¾ of the poor live in middle income countries. This is consistent with where the poorest people live according to multidimensional poverty measures, which identify needs beyond the economic dimension.
Poverty within Countries
Most countries have their own national poverty lines, which set a threshold for poverty based on local context. In many countries this is explicitly a relative measure, set at a proportion of the average income of the country, emphasising the importance of understanding how poverty relates to inequality and the distribution of outcomes and opportunities in a society. While inequality between countries has fallen in recent decades, as relatively low income countries have grown faster than higher income countries, inequality within many countries has increased.
Disaggregating the data on poverty within countries helps to identify particular individuals and groups more likely to live in poverty and the associated discrimination and exclusion they face. In many countries this includes women, children and persons with disabilities, as well as other locally relevant identities based on which people face inequalities.
The following links provide useful further information on the trends in global poverty:
Further information on Economic Poverty available here»
> World Bank report conveys a gloomy picture of poverty reduction (2020)
> More Evidence for Falling Poverty in Asia, Linked to Falling Birth Rates (2014)
> So Being Poor Saps Mental Abilities? An Article in the Journal Science Links Poverty and Cognitive Function (2013)
Further information on Multidimensional Poverty available here»
> International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2021 - "Building Forward Together" (2021)
> Fragility and Conflict: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Poverty (2020)
> Multidimensional Poverty Index (2019)
> The SDGs, Land Rights, and Poverty (2015)
> Global Demand for Natural Resources and Local Demands for Justice: About Business, Land and Rights (2014)
> International Indices: Confusing or Clarifying the Poverty Debate (2013)
> Contested Geographies of Poverty and Aid (2012)
> Growing Inequalities and Global Governance (2014)
> The Dangerous Economics of Inequality: The IMF Adds its Voice to a Growing Chorus (2014)
> Is the World on Track to End Poverty by 2030? See for yourself through the World Poverty Clock
> Data and Leave No One Behind (2021)
> Why poverty targeting may not be the right thing to do (2018)
> Urban Poverty: What Consequences for SDC’s South Cooperation? (2016)
> Making a Better World? How Being Reflexive Could Make Us More Effective Development Practitioners (2014)
> The Tyranny of Performance: Or the Luxury of Time... (2014)
> Partnerships with the Private Sector for Development: The Private Sector as a Driving Force for Development (2014)