The remarkably upbeat Brookings report on global poverty that Charles Kenny discussed in his recent post has some striking stats.
“Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of poor people around the world fell by nearly half a billion people, from over 1.3 billion in 2005 to under 900 million in 2010. Looking ahead to 2015, extreme poverty could fall to under 600 million people—less than half the number regularly cited in describing the number of poor people in the world today. Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.”
Methodology: “we take the most recent household survey data for each country, and generate poverty estimates for the years 2005 to 2015 using historical and forecast estimates of per capita consumption growth, making the simplifying assumption that the income distribution in each country remains unchanged.”
Most of the poverty reduction is down to the growth leaps of India and China – by 2015, Brookings reckon that Nigeria will have more poor people than either of the big two. Poverty will be ‘An African problem with fewer big targets.’ (see table and bubble diagram – double click to expand them)
And here’s some more on the $66bn figure I mentioned on Monday: “Providing every person in the world with a minimum income of $1.25/day—in other words guaranteeing the right not to live in absolute poverty—is rapidly becoming feasible. In 2005, supplementing the income of each poor person in the world to bring their daily income up to $1.25 would have cost $96 billion, or 80 percent of the total volume of foreign aid disbursed that year. In 2010, with poverty less widespread and larger global aid volumes, the cost of such a global safety net would be just $66 billion, or slightly more than half of all official aid.
While the logistics of distributing cash to poor populations would not be without challenges, recent advances in biometric identification technologies—such as fingerprint and iris scanning—have greatly expanded the promise of implementing large-scale welfare programs in poor countries. Given the success of many cash transfer programs, significantly scaling up their use to provide a minimum income for all individuals living in poverty might be a fruitful new direction for donors to pursue.” [or governments could use for windfall from high commodity prices, as in Alaska]
The euphoric conclusion: “The new estimates of global poverty presented in this brief serve as a reminder of just how powerful high growth can be in freeing people from poverty. In the span of a decade, the share of the world’s population living in poverty could be cut by two-thirds, the number of countries where more than 1 in 6 people live in poverty could drop from 60 to 35, and 19 countries are poised to eliminate poverty altogether…… The “dream of a world free of poverty,” the oft-ridiculed motto emblazoned at the entrance of the World Bank, is, year by year, coming closer to reality.’
Next task, making sure the environmental impact of all that growth doesn’t undo all the good work…..