Facts about Global Poverty

  • In 2013, 11.2% of the world population had a daily income of less than $1.90 (WB)
  • In 2013, 48.7% of the world population had a daily income of less than $5.50 (WB)
  • In 2015, 736 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, down from 1.85 billion in 1990 (WB)
  • According to UN report of 2010, there are 925 million people who do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. (Source: FAO news release, 14 September 2010)
  • The wealthiest 1% of the global population, own 45 percent of the world’s wealth. (inequality.org)
  • The richest 26 people on the planet own as much as the 3.8 billion people who comprise the poorest 50% of the global population. (Oxfam)
  • Over 50% of the global poor now live in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90) is 413 million.
  • If current trends continue, by 2030, 90% of the global poor will live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The main causes of poverty are – living in rural areas, working in agriculture, living in a poor region.
  • In 2015, the World Bank raised the threshold of extreme poverty from $1.25 a day to $1.90. The reason is that US prices rose faster than local prices. The dollar value of $1.90 better reflects the prices people pay in local areas. $1.90 in 2011 buys approximately the same things as $1.25 did in 2005 in poor countries, (WB)

Fall in poverty

Extreme Global poverty, defined as an income of less than $1.90 a day, has fallen from over 40% of the global population in 1981 to 10% of the global population in 2015.


However, the fall has been concentrated in Asia and Latin America.

Countries with highest levels of extreme poverty include Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

povertylevels africa

Source: World Bank – Headcount ratio of $1.90 (note some countries do not return statistics)

The link between income levels and reported levels of satisfaction often varies

dissatisfied-vs-income Source: OurWorldinData

Cambodia and Bangladesh have similar low-income levels to Rwanda and Benin, but Bangladesh reports dissatisfaction of 18% compared to over 70% in Benin. This show many other factors affect living standards apart from reported income levels.

Share of the world population living in absolute poverty 1820-2015

This shows that poverty was the norm – for more than 90% of the population. In 1820, researches estimate that 94% of the world population was living under our terms of absolute poverty (less than $2 a day)


Absolute poverty levels have fallen considerably since 1820 – with a sharp fall in the post-war period.

Source: OurWorldinData

In 2015, 736 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, down from 1.85 billion in 1990.

Poverty headcount ratio

This measures the share of the population living with income levels below the poverty line.


Source: OurWorldinData

A 2019 report by Oxford stated that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people (50% of the world population) (link)


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