The end of extreme poverty is in sight

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What is “extreme poverty”? Economists define it as an income of less than $1.25 per day. In reality, it means that a family cannot be sure from one day to the next that they will have enough to eat. Children have to work instead of going to school. Children die from easily preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. And for women it means uncontrolled fertility and families of six or more children.

But the number of people in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank, has fallen from two billion in 1980 to just over one billion today. Though many people in the world still live on a very low income, six out of seven billion are now out of extreme poverty and this is a critical change. These families have fewer children, of whom the vast majority survive, get enough food and go to school. In fact, for the first time ever, the evidence suggests it is now possible for the last billion to also get out of the misery of extreme poverty in the next few decades. It will mainly be through their own hard work – but it will only happen if they receive, from their governments and from the world at large, the focused help they need to stay healthy, get educated and increase their productivity.

Most of the world’s countries have caught up far more quickly in health than in wealth. For instance, Vietnam has the same health as the US had in 1980 but so far only the same income per person as the US had in 1880! Behind the increased lifespan lies an impressive drop in child mortality. Tragically, seven million of the 135 million children born each year still die before they reach five years old. But in 1960 one in five children died before the age of five. Today it’s one in 20, and the rate is still falling. One common myth is that healthcare – by saving the lives of poor children – just leads to faster population growth. But paradoxically the opposite is true. Why? Because there is only ever demand for family planning when child mortality drops sufficiently. Before that happens, women keep on having babies. The fastest population growth rates today are in the poorest and most war-torn countries with the highest child mortality, like Afghanistan and DR Congo. Get the mortality rate down, and the demand for family planning goes up.

 

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3 Responses to “The end of extreme poverty is in sight”

  1. u1059279 Says:

    We can end absolute, extreme poverty within 20 years, according to Geoffrey Lamb, president of global policy and advocacy at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That means the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day will fall from a fifth of the world’s population to less than 5%.

    In the Graeme Clark Oration delivered to an audience of 2,000 people last night at the Melbourne Convention Centre, Lamb outlined how we are winning the war against poverty. He underlined this with the fact that GDP growth in developing countries is outstripping the economic growth of OECD countries. And he said the world has witnessed “an unparalleled transformation”, with 700 million fewer people living in absolute poverty than 20 years ago.

    According to Lamb people in extreme poverty go to sleep hungry or feeling insecure about their food for the next day. Their lives are precarious; if a wage earner gets ill, a whole family faces crisis. If there’s a measles epidemic, it can tip a whole community into crisis.

    He demonstrated that while nearly two-thirds of child mortality is due to preventable infectious diseases, such as AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and neonatal illnesses, this too hides a “dramatically good story”. Seven million fewer children die every year compared to 20 years ago.

  2. u0953238 Says:

    The measures used by economists sometimes are not practical and tend not to see things on a bigger picture. For example their statics are based on a family in normal life setting. Who has looked into the street kids in Africa, war children Congo,etc. One cannot getaway by claiming to win the war on poverty in twenty years yet there are no practical solutions to the problems for example Africa faces today anchored on ‘The rule of law’.

  3. u0950028 Says:

    Reblogged this on u0950028.

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