Poverty falls as inequality increases

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A new World Bank study on poverty and shared prosperity says that extreme poverty worldwide continues to fall despite the lethargic state of the global economy. But it warns that given projected growth trends, reducing high inequality may be a necessary component to reaching the world’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

According to the inaugural edition of Poverty and Shared Prosperity – a new series that will report on the latest and most accurate estimates and trends in global poverty and shared prosperity annually – nearly 800 million people lived on less than US $ 1.90 a day in 2013. That is around 100 million fewer extremely poor people than in 2012. Progress on extreme poverty was driven mainly by East Asia and Pacific, especially China and Indonesia, and by India. Half of the world’s extreme poor now live in Sub-Saharan Africa, and another third live in South Asia.

In 60 out of the 83 countries covered by the new report to track shared prosperity, average incomes went up for people living in the bottom 40 percent of their countries between 2008 and 2013, despite the financial crisis. Importantly, these countries represent 67 percent of the world’s population.

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“It’s remarkable that countries have continued to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity at a time when the global economy is underperforming – but still far too many people live with far too little,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

 

“Unless we can resume faster global growth and reduce inequality, we risk missing our World Bank target of ending extreme poverty by 2030. The message is clear: to end poverty, we must make growth work for the poorest, and one of the surest ways to do that is to reduce high inequality, especially in those countries where many poor people live.”

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