Helena Costa, a smallholder from Sao Tome & Principe, has been investing in her family’s small agribusiness for a decade, wanting it to be more productive, more profitable, and produce quality fruits and vegetable products to supply local and export markets. The quality improvements she’s invested in include food safety practices, shifting to organic production, and planting biofortified crops. However, these food quality improvements are not yet recognized by the market. So, for Helena, improving the nutritional value of her food products is an extra cost that puts her at a disadvantage in relation to her competitors.
“We had lost hope,” said Muneera’s father. “As her health deteriorated and her body weakened, we worried that she could not last much longer.” Six months short of her fourth birthday, Muneera was suffering the effects of malnutrition, which had put her life in danger. Though she lived near Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, Muneera’s family did not have the resources to take her for medical care. Like thousands of other children in Yemen, the deteriorating conditions due to ongoing instability had led to malnutrition.
During the days coming up to, and after October 17, when many stories, numbers, and calls for action will mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we want to invite you to think for a second on what you imagine a poor household to be like. Is this a husband, wife, and children, or maybe an elderly couple? Are the children girls or boys? And more importantly, do all experience the same deprivations and challenges from the situation they live in? In a recent blog post and paper, we showed that looking at who lives in poor homes—from gender differences to household composition more broadly—matters to better understand and tackle poverty.
Globally, female and male poverty rates—defined as the share of women and men who live in poor households—are very similar (12.8 and 12.3 percent, respectively, based on 2013 data). Even in the two regions with the largest number of poor people (and highest poverty rates)—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—gender differences in poverty rates are quite small. This is true for the regions, but also for individual countries, irrespective of their share of poor people. Why is that the case? As Chapter 5 of the 2018 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report explains, our standard monetary poverty indicator is measured by household, not by individual. So, a person is classified as either poor or nonpoor according to the poverty status of the household in which she or he lives. This approach critically assumes everyone in the household shares equally in household consumption—be they a father, a young child, or a daughter-in-law. By design, it thus masks differences in individual poverty within a household.
Notwithstanding this shortcoming, when we look a bit deeper the information we have today still shows visible gender differences in poverty rates. Take age, for example. We know that there are more poor children than poor adults, and while we do not find that poverty rates differ much between girls and boys at the early stages of life, stark differences appear between men and women during the peak productive and reproductive years.
To mark this year’s End Poverty Day, the World Bank has released its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle”, which documents the dramatic reduction in extreme poverty achieved from 1990 to 2015. In the span of 25 years, the share of people around the world living in extreme poverty line fell from 36% to 10% (from 1.9 billion to 736 million), despite the global population growing from 5 to 7 billion.
The Philippines’ economy has been booming since 2010, growing over 6% per year on average. The country is one of the top performers in the East Asia Pacific region, and its impressive economic performance is reflected in the towering skylines, luxurious condos, and huge shopping malls of Makati and Bonifacio Global City, the financial centers of Metro Manila. However, the country still has over 20% of the population living below national and international poverty line. Old jeepneys, the most popular means of transportation, carrying a massive number of commuters to and from expanding swathes of blighted areas portrait perfectly this contrast. My personal observation was quickly confirmed by the graph below.
The other day I asked my five-year-old daughter if she knew what being poor was. She hesitated at first but soon she was on a roll. She mentioned that being poor was not having enough to eat, not living in a “germ-free” house, and – my favorites – not having gummy bears or a blanket. All this within the first couple of minutes of possibly her first time ever thinking about what being poor meant. The idea of poverty is very intuitive – even for a five-year-old – but equally hard to put boundaries around. It is common to say that poverty doesn’t mean the same thing in different contexts or that it goes beyond monetary dimensions. But what do we mean by that?
In the first season of The Wire, an American crime drama television series, a young girl who lives in a poor and crime-ridden neighborhood asks Wallace, a teenaged drug dealer, for help with a math problem. It's a word problem that has multiple passengers getting on and off a bus and that asks how many passengers are on the bus at the end of it. The girl is lost. Wallace reframes the problem for her, describing a situation in which different buyers and sellers of crack cocaine take and give her different numbers of vials. When she answers correctly, Wallace asks her why she can't do the same problem when it's in her math book. She explains that if she gets the vial count wrong, the drug dealers will hurt her, so she must get it right.
Each year on October. 17, we mark End Poverty Day at the World Bank Group to celebrate the progress we’ve made toward our twin goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030; and to boost shared prosperity among the poorest 40 percent around the world. But more importantly, we use this day to take stock of how much further we have to go.
Today, we released the latest Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report, which shows that we have never been closer to realizing those goals. The percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty has dropped from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015, the lowest it has ever been in recorded history. During that time, more than 1 billion people lifted themselves out of poverty. About half of the world’s countries have reduced extreme poverty below 3 percent – the target we set for the world to reach by 2030.
The overall macroeconomic and security context in Afghanistan since 2007 can be broken into two distinct phases, pre- and post- the 2014 security transition, when international troops handed over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
The pre-transition phase was marked by higher economic growth (GDP per capita grew 63 percent relative to its 2007 value) and a relatively stable security situation.
. With the withdrawal of most international troops and the steady decline in aid (both security and civilian aid) since 2012, the economy witnessed an enormous shock to demand, from which it is still struggling to recover.
Similarly, welfare can be characterized into two distinct phases.
- South Asia
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Labor and Social Protection
- Private Sector Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Social Development
- Conflict and Fragility. fragile and conflict affected states; Poverty; Agriculture; Economic Growth
- End Poverty Day
"I have a four-year-old son back in my village. I want to make a better life for him,” says Sharmin Akhtar, a 19-year-old employee in one of Dhaka’s many flourishing garment factories.
Like thousands of other poor women, Sharmin came down to Bangladesh’s capital from her village in the country’s north to seek a better job and create a more prosperous future for her family—leaving behind a life of crushing poverty.
Today, as we mark End Poverty Day 2018, it’s important to note that Sharmin’s heartening story is one of many in Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, where economic growth has spurred a dramatic decline in extreme poverty in the last 25 years.
And the numbers are striking:
Even more remarkable, South Asian countries experienced an increase in incomes among the poorest 40 percent of 2.6 percent a year between 2010-2015, faster than the global average of 1.9 percent.
It’s worth thinking about how far South Asia has come – but remaining clear-eyed about how far we must go to finish the fight against extreme poverty.
Indeed, it is increasingly clear that
True, the extreme poverty rate is significantly lower in India relative to the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. But because of its large population, India’s total number of poor is still large.
And while there has been a substantial decline in the numbers and rate of people living below $1.90 in South Asia, the number of people living on less than $3.20 has declined by only 8 percent over 1990-2015 because of the growing population.