Income Poverty Still Falling, But More Slowly

Hilary French | Oct 01, 2009

The World Bank projects that the number of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 a day) will fall slightly in 2009, declining from 1,203 million in 2008 to 1,184 million (see Table.) 1 The share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty is also expected to decline by a small amount, from 21.3 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009.2

But the economic crisis is slowing recent progress in reducing the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty. The projected 0.6 percentage point reduction in the poverty rate for 2009 is a significant reduction from the 1.3 percentage point average annual decline experienced during the previous three years.3 All told, the World Bank projects that the global recession will cause anywhere from 55 million to 90 million more people to remain in poverty in 2009 than would otherwise have been the case.4

By the end of 2010, the World Bank currently estimates that 89 million more people will be living in extreme poverty due to the recession than had earlier been expected.5 Important human development gains are also threatened.  For example, the Bank projects that the economic downturn could cause 30,000 to 50,000 additional infant deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa alone in 2009.6

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