Published on Data Blog

Nearly 1 in 2 in the world lives under $5.50 a day

Today, less than 10 percent of the world population lives in extreme poverty. Based on information about basic needs collected from 15 low-income countries, the World Bank defines the extreme poor as those living on less than $1.90 a day. However, because more people in poverty live in middle-income, rather than low-income, countries today, higher poverty lines have been introduced. These lines are $3.20 and $5.50 a day, which are more typical of poverty thresholds for middle-income countries.

These higher poverty lines highlight that although a large proportion of people in middle-income countries lives above the $1.90 threshold, many still live on less than $5.50 a day. For example, in Indonesia and Pakistan, both lower-middle-income countries, only 7 and 5 percent of people live on less than $1.90 a day. However, 26 and 33 percent of the population in these countries live on less than $3.20 a day and more than two-thirds and three-fourths of the population live on less than $5.50 a day. Even in Mexico and China, both upper-middle-income countries, over 25 percent of the population lives on less than $5.50 a day.

To learn more about higher poverty lines, read the recently released Poverty and Shared Prosperity report 2018, “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle.”


Dean Mitchell Jolliffe

Lead Economist, Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS), World Bank

Divyanshi Wadhwa

Data Scientist, Development Data Group, World Bank

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