What it Will Take to ‘Graduate’ 1.2 Billion People Out of Extreme Poverty

April 4, 2012
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A new report from the World Bank brings welcome news on the global poverty front.Despite the worldwide recession of the late 2000s, the total number of people living in extreme poverty has actually gone down in recent years — so much, in fact, that we’ve reached the first of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals five years ahead of schedule, a startling achievement.

The following was originally posted by Susan Davis in The Huffington Post.

A new report from the World Bank brings welcome news on the global poverty front.Despite the worldwide recession of the late 2000s, the total number of people living in extreme poverty has actually gone down in recent years — so much, in fact, that we’ve reached the first of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals five years ahead of schedule, a startling achievement. The number living in “extreme poverty” decreased by 100 million between 2005 and 2008.As of four years ago, “only” 1.29 billion people lived below $1.25 a day. Preliminary data shows the trend continuing in 2010.

That’s cause for celebration, for sure. But as Bill Abrams, president of the Trickle Up, a US-based nonprofit targeting those living in extreme poverty, points out in a recent letter to The New York Times, “giant numbers and statistical conceits can conceal as much as they reveal.” The World Bank study defines extreme poverty as living on an average income of $1.25 per day, which actually lumps together a fairly wide spectrum.

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