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  • Factsheet
  • 10 November 2021

Poverty trends: global, regional and national

Poverty is complex and it can be described and measured in a variety of ways. In this factsheet we unpack some of the key terminology alongside the latest trends in poverty at the global, regional and national levels.

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Authors

Elena Suckling, Zach Christensen , Dan Walton

This factsheet (updated in November 2021) provides an overview of economic poverty trends at the global and national levels. It unpacks the terminology used to describe poverty and explains how poverty is measured. Measuring poverty is vital because it supports action to improve the lives of those living in poverty now, or at risk of experiencing poverty in the future. Data on poverty and poverty trends can provide the information needed to support better policy decisions and increase accountability.

This factsheet is the first in a series of papers produced as part of our work to reduce poverty and inequality. For more information, read our next factsheet in the series, Inequality: Global trends.

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Poverty trends: global, regional and national

Global poverty trends

  • In 2021 an estimated 698 million people, or 9% of the global population, are living in extreme poverty – that is, living on less than $1.90 a day.[1] Over one-fifth of the global population live below the higher $3.20 poverty line (1,803 million people), and over two-fifths (3,293 million people) live below $5.50 a day.[2]
  • Between 2019 and 2020, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by an estimated 50 million due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting global economic downturn. The number of people living in extreme poverty is estimated to have fallen during 2021 as the global economy has started to recover, but there remains an estimated eight million more people living in poverty today than there were in 2019.
  • This follows decades of impressive poverty reduction. An estimated 1.1 billion people, or 16% of the global population, lived in extreme poverty in 2010 and almost two billion in 1990.

Regional and national poverty trends

  • China and India have experienced the greatest national reductions in people living in extreme poverty. More than 407 million people across those two countries moved out of extreme poverty between 2010 and 2021.
  • For 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased between 2010 and 2020.[3]The largest increases have occurred in Angola (9.4 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (8.8 million) and South Sudan (7 million). In 2021, 66% of the global population living in extreme poverty live in countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Poverty has also increased in countries affected by conflict and fragility. Between 2010 and 2021, Yemen has seen the highest increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, with 16 million more people below the extreme poverty line in 2021 than in 2010. In Venezuela, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by 10 million, and in Syria the number is estimated to have increased by 6.7 million, though accurate data is difficult to obtain in these contexts.

Data availability and timeliness

  • As we enter the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) decade of delivery, essential poverty data remains out of date: the most recent year for which we have global poverty data published by the World Bank is 2017. Partial data is now reported up to 2019; however, missing data from India has prevented global estimates from being published.
  • To produce 2020 and 2021 estimates, we have taken income distribution data from the World Bank’s PovcalNet and multiplied incomes by 85% of the forecasted GDP per capita growth rates published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s World Economic Outlook, which is the estimated share of GDP growth that passes on to households.
  • Current measures of global poverty are incomplete in several important ways. For example: data is measured at a household level, masking differences in poverty within households; some countries have no data at all; and poverty measured by a threshold line does not consider the living standard of the very poorest people (those with the lowest expenditure or income). The projections that go beyond the year of last available data assume that the income distribution is unchanged.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised how important detailed and timely data is to understand poverty dynamics in order to respond appropriately where need is greatest. Timeliness of this data must improve if we are serious about monitoring the SDGs.
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Introduction

What does it mean to live in poverty?

To live in poverty is to lack the resources required to meet basic needs. One way to measure poverty is to consider a person’s economic resources – either the amount of money a person receives (income), the amount they spend (expenditure or consumption), or the amount they have saved or the value of their assets (wealth). Poverty defined in this way is economic poverty. Economic poverty is just one measure of the poorest people’s needs: poverty can also be social, nutritional, cultural or multidimensional. The global definition of extreme poverty does not directly measure these other factors.

The first goal of the SDGs – ending poverty in all its forms everywhere – requires a better understanding and reporting of economic, social, nutritional and cultural needs and resources at an individual level. Poverty can only be comprehensively assessed with metrics that expand the scope beyond purely economic terms. Measures such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index,[4] food poverty, inequality indices and fragility and vulnerability measures are all indispensable tools in attempts to end poverty.

People living in poverty are among the most vulnerable in society: as well as a lack of resources, the poorest families on average also see higher infant mortality, higher stunting in children and lower educational attainment.[5] Ending poverty and improving the livelihoods of the poorest people requires policymakers to be able to access accurate information regarding who is impoverished, where and why. Tracking poverty – globally, regionally and nationally – is paramount to achieving this goal. It is a universal target for all countries, with the first SDG committing countries to reduce poverty in all its dimensions and according to national definitions.

How is economic poverty measured?

Poverty can be defined by a fixed value (absolute poverty) or by a value in relation to the rest of the population (relative poverty). Absolute poverty is measured by a minimum amount of money required to meet basic needs, known as a poverty line. A person is considered to be living in poverty if their income, expenditure or wealth falls below this line. In contrast, relative poverty is determined in relation to others: a person is in poverty if their income, expenditure or wealth is significantly below the average of the rest of the population.

The international standard for measuring poverty is the extreme poverty line, a measure of absolute poverty with a threshold equivalent to US$1.90 per person per day. The extreme poverty threshold is considered as the minimum income or expenditure required to meet very basic needs.[6] Many have argued that the extreme poverty line is too low. Two more poverty lines, which reflect the costs of higher basic needs in more developed countries, are also used internationally: US$3.20 and US$5.50 per person per day. Countries also adopt their own national poverty lines to reflect what poverty looks like relative to average incomes in that country.

The extreme poverty line of $1.90 is standardised across countries using purchasing power parity (PPP) currency conversions in 2011. PPP conversions reflect the real buying power of a currency, so that the value of the $1.90 line reflects the same local value of goods and services in different countries at different times.

International poverty is measured using data available from national household surveys, which capture population income and/or expenditure data. The World Bank’s PovcalNet, a global repository for poverty data, contains data from over two million household surveys, for 168 economies, for the period 1981–2019.[7] Data from PovcalNet and national sources is used to generate international, regional and national poverty measures and track poverty over time; however, it remains limited due to the people that are often missing from household surveys, the inability to disaggregate within households and the time delay between collecting the data and it being available for analysis, which can be years.

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Global poverty trends

Reducing global poverty was a key aim of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The target for the MDGs was to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by half between 1990 and 2015. At the global level, this was achieved three years ahead of schedule, in 2012.[8] Ending poverty now stands at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015; the first of its 17 goals is ‘no poverty by 2030’. Tracking global progress on extreme poverty tells us how close the world is to achieving this aim.

In 2010, it was estimated that 1.1 billion people were living below the extreme poverty line –16% of the global population at the time.

In 2017 (the most recent year for which global estimates have been published by the World Bank), 714 million people were living in extreme poverty – 9% of the global population. We estimate that extreme poverty continued to decline towards 2019, with 690 million people living in extreme poverty in 2019.

The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have increased extreme poverty around the world

However, the global economic contraction in 2020 associated with the Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have increased the number of people living in extreme poverty by 50 million between 2019 and 2020. As most economies around the world have been rebounding in 2021, the number of people living in extreme poverty is estimated to have fallen again, but there remains an estimated 679 million people living in poverty – eight million more today than there were in 2019.

As the global economy recovers from the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank project that most countries are likely to grow in the next five years. We use these projections to estimate that the number of people living in poverty is expected to be 525 million, 6% of the global population, by 2026. This would make reaching the SDG target to end extreme poverty by 2030 extremely unlikely.

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Figure 1: Globally, the number of people in extreme poverty has almost halved between 2010 and 2021, but 698 million, almost 9% of the world’s population, are still living below the $1.90 poverty line in 2021

Figure 1: Globally, the number of people in extreme poverty has almost halved between 2010 and 2021, but 698 million, almost 9% of the world’s population, are still living below the $1.90 poverty line in 2021
Year Proportion of the global population living in extreme poverty Projected proportion of the global population living in extreme poverty Number of people living in extreme poverty globally (millions) Projected number of people living in extreme poverty globally (millions)
2010 16% - 1,125,011,931 -
2011 14% - 987,367,998 -
2012 13% - 926,069,527 -
2013 11% - 826,424,181 -
2014 11% - 788,243,556 -
2015 10% - 759,363,013 -
2016 10% - 736,256,088 -
2017 9% - 714,233,119 -
2018 9% - 696,397,266 -
2019 9% - 690,014,311 -
2020 9% 9% 739,705,448 739,705,448
2021 - 9% - 697,781,142
2022 - 8% - 663,411,681
2023 - 8% - 627,371,559
2024 - 7% - 593,628,800
2025 - 7% - 552,528,417
2026 - 6% - 525,277,340

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook.

These projections to 2026 should be interpreted with caution, however. As the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated, positive trends in growth and poverty reduction cannot be taken for granted. People living just above or below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 a day live extremely precarious lives, typically with few assets or state-provided social protection support. Global, national and local events and policy changes can therefore have an enormous impact on lives and livelihoods, presenting opportunities to accelerate poverty reduction as well as holding it back.

The number of people living in poverty as measured by the higher international poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50 has also increased since 2019

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Figure 2a: The number of people living below the $3.20 and $5.50 poverty lines has been falling since 2010 and is projected to continue to fall, but it is still estimated that almost 3 billion people around the world will have less than $5.50 a day in 2026

Figure 2a: The number of people living below the $3.20 and $5.50 poverty lines has been falling since 2010 and is projected to continue to fall, but it is still estimated that almost 3 billion people around the world will have less than $5.50 a day in 2026
Year Number of people living on less than $5.50 per day, globally (millions) Projected number of people
living on less than $5.50 per day, globally (millions)
Number of people living on less than $3.20 per day, globally (millions) Projected number of people living on less than $3.20 per day, globally (millions)
2010 3,741,691,877 - 2,460,731,051 -
2011 3,669,710,974 - 2,320,779,611 -
2012 3,609,739,322 - 2,239,286,496 -
2013 3,507,041,997 - 2,095,684,009 -
2014 3,451,351,108 - 2,028,617,510 -
2015 3,401,877,975 - 1,965,520,827 -
2016 3,353,292,734 - 1,908,453,840 -
2017 3,295,703,577 - 1,845,098,287 -
2018 3,257,112,023 - 1,801,445,823 -
2019 3,252,121,683 - 1,789,701,728 -
2020 3,358,171,786 3,358,171,786 1,883,766,668 1,883,766,668
2021 - 3,293,495,477 - 1,803,487,717
2022 - 3,240,858,835 - 1,732,131,482
2023 - 3189059370 - 1658227331
2024 - 3131706088 - 1584789401
2025 - 3052176396 - 1495665048
2026 - 2989142226 - 1430348853

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook.

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Figure 2b: Over one-fifth of the global population remains below the $3.20 poverty line and almost half are below the $5.50 poverty line

Figure 2b: Over one-fifth of the global population remains below the $3.20 poverty line and almost half are below the $5.50 poverty line
Year Proportion of people living on less than $5.50 per day, globally Projected proportion of people living on less than $5.50 per day, globally Proportion of people living on less than $3.20 per day, globally Projected proportion of people living on less than $3.20 per day, globally
2010 54% - 35% -
2011 52% - 33% -
2012 51% - 31% -
2013 49% - 29% -
2014 47% - 28% -
2015 46% - 27% -
2016 45% - 26% -
2017 44% - 24% -
2018 43% - 24% -
2019 42% - 23% -
2020 43% 43% 24% 24%
2021 - 42% - 23%
2022 - 41% - 22%
2023 - 40% - 21%
2024 - 39% - 20%
2025 - 37% - 18%
2026 - 36% - 17%

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook.

Between 2010 and 2019, the global proportion of people living on less than $3.20 a day decreased from 35% to 23%, and the number of people fell by 671 million. However, the number is estimated to have increased by about 95 million between 2019 and 2020, before falling again by 80 million between 2020 and 2021, a net increase between 2019 and 2021 of around 15 million. As of 2021, over a quarter of the global population (1.8 billion people) were living below $3.20 a day.

Looking at a higher poverty line of $5.50, between 2010 and 2019 the global proportion of people living in poverty decreased from 54% to 42%, and the number of people decreased from 3.7 billion to 3.2 billion. However, the impact of the pandemic is expected to increase this figure by 106 million from 2019 to 2020, before falling again by 64 million between 2020 and 2021, resulting in a net increase between 2019 and 2021 of 41 million. In 2021, about two-fifths of the world’s population (42%) lived on less than $5.50 a day.

Although significant headway has been made in bringing people above the threshold of extreme poverty ($1.90), slower progress against higher poverty lines suggests many people are still at risk of being pushed back into extreme poverty and that greater efforts are needed to improve living standards of the poorest people above very basic levels. Projections using latest growth estimates from the IMF estimate that by 2026, there will remain three billion people below the $5.50 poverty line and 1.5 billion on less than $3.20 per day.

Again, these projections to 2026 should be interpreted with caution. With almost half the population currently living on less than $5.50 a day, there is huge diversity in the experiences and events that will affect this group in the years to come.

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Regional and national poverty trends

Extreme poverty has fallen dramatically in countries in East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia, particularly in China and India

Since 2010, countries in the regions of East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia have significantly reduced the numbers of people living in extreme poverty. East Asia and the Pacific has seen the most significant change: in 2010 the region was home to 19% of the world’s people who live in extreme poverty (over 214 million), but by 2021 this had dropped to 3% (19 million people). This rate of poverty reduction is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Rapid economic growth in economies with the largest populations has been a key factor in global poverty reduction.[9] In 1990, China was home to almost 777 million people living in extreme poverty, and India was home to a further 427 million, together representing over 60% of the world’s poorest people at that time. By 2010, this had fallen to 152 million in China and 365 million in India, and poverty rates have continued to decline in the last decade, to two million in China and almost 109 million in India.

Beyond China and India, Indonesia’s poverty headcount dropped from 13% in 2010 to 2% in 2019. The Philippines dropped from 12% in 2010 to 4% in 2021. As of 2021, only a group of mostly small island states in the region (Vanuatu, Timor-Leste, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Micronesia and Lao PDR) had extreme poverty headcounts above 4%. This is still the case in 2021.

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Figure 3: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in East Asia and the Pacific (2010–2021)

Figure 3: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in East Asia and the Pacific (2010–2021)
Country Region % of population living in extreme poverty, 2010 % of population living in extreme poverty, 2021 Increase/decrease in % of population living in extreme poverty Increase/decrease in number of people living in poverty (millions)
China East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 11% 0% -11% -150.2
Fiji East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 1% 0% -1% 0
Micronesia, Federated States of East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 12% 16% 5% 0
Indonesia East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 13% 2% -11% -25.6
Kiribati East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 15% 10% -4% 0.0
Lao People's Democratic Republic East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 18% 8% -10% -0.5
Myanmar East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 13% 1% -12% -6.0
Mongolia East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 1% 0% 0% 0.0
Malaysia East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 0% 0% 0% -0.1
Philippines East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 12% 4% -7% -6.2
Papua New Guinea East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 37% 26% -11% -0.3
Solomon Islands East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 32% 24% -8% 0.0
Thailand East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Timor-Leste East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 31% 23% -8% 0.0
Tonga East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 1% 1% 0% 0.0
Tuvalu East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 3% 0% -3% 0.0
Vietnam East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 4% 1% -3% -2.6
Vanuatu East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 13% 17% 4% 0.0
Samoa East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia 1% 1% 0% 0.0

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook. Full data for all countries is available in the Annex.

Countries plotted in the bottom left-hand corner of the chart saw both the numbers and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty fall between 2010 and 2021. China stands out, with a decrease of 150 million, which corresponds to a 11% decline in the poverty across population. Indonesia saw a decrease of 25.6 million and 11%. A number of other countries in the region saw significant declines in the proportion of the population living in poverty, but with much smaller total populations, this corresponds to a relatively much smaller decline in the number of people living in poverty.

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Figure 4: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in South Asia (2010–2021)

Figure 4: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in South Asia (2010–2021)
Region % of the population living in extreme poverty, 2010 % of the population living in extreme poverty, 2021 Increase/decrease in % of the population living in extreme poverty Increase/decrease in number of people living in poverty (million)
Sub-Saharan Africa 56% 34% -22% -2.8
Sub-Saharan Africa 19% 5% -15% -21.2
Sub-Saharan Africa 3% 1% -2% 0.0
Sub-Saharan Africa 30% 8% -22% -257.1
Sub-Saharan Africa 3% 1% -2% -0.4
Sub-Saharan Africa 2% 0% -2% 0.0
Sub-Saharan Africa 15% 5% -11% -2.8
Sub-Saharan Africa 10% 4% -6% -8.2

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook. Full data for all countries is available in the Annex.

All countries in South Asia saw poverty fall between 2010 and 2021. India stands out in this chart, with 257 million people no longer living in extreme poverty: the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty reduced by 22% from 30% to 8%.

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Figure 5: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Europe and Central Asia (2010–2021)

Figure 5: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Europe and Central Asia (2010–2021)
Country Region % of people
living in extreme poverty, 2010
% of people
living in extreme poverty, 2021
Increase/decrease
in % of people living in extreme poverty
Increase/decrease
in number of people living in extreme poverty (millions)
Albania Europe and Central Asia 1% 1% 0% 0.0
Armenia Europe and Central Asia 1% 1% 0% 0.0
Azerbaijan Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Bulgaria Europe and Central Asia 2% 1% -1% -0.1
Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Belarus Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Czech Republic Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Estonia Europe and Central Asia 1% 0% 0% 0.0
Georgia Europe and Central Asia 12% 4% -8% -0.3
Croatia Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Hungary Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Kazakhstan Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Kyrgyz Republic Europe and Central Asia 3% 1% -2% -0.1
Lithuania Europe and Central Asia 2% 1% -1% 0.0
Latvia Europe and Central Asia 2% 0% -1% 0.0
Moldova Europe and Central Asia 1% 0% 0% 0.0
North Macedonia Europe and Central Asia 10% 3% -7% -0.1
Montenegro Europe and Central Asia 0% 2% 2% 0.0
Poland Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Romania Europe and Central Asia 0% 2% 2% 0.4
Russian Federation Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% -0.1
Serbia Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Slovak Republic Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Slovenia Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Tajikistan Europe and Central Asia 4% 2% -2% -0.1
Turkmenistan Europe and Central Asia 10% 2% -9% -0.4
Turkey Europe and Central Asia 1% 0% 0% -0.3
Ukraine Europe and Central Asia 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Uzbekistan Europe and Central Asia 30% 9% -21% -5.4

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook. Full data for all countries is available in the Annex.

In the bottom left-hand corner of the chart, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in Uzbekistan dropped by 21% (from 30% to 9%): 5.4 million people now longer living in poverty.

Extreme poverty has increased in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa

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Figure 6: The number of people living in extreme poverty outside of sub-Saharan Africa fell from 708 million in 2010 to 240 million in 2021, while the number in countries in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 417 million to 458 million, an increase in the global share of poverty from 37% in 2010 to 66% in 2021

Figure 6: The number of people living in extreme poverty outside of sub-Saharan Africa fell from 708 million in 2010 to 240 million in 2021, while the number in countries in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 417 million to 458 million, an increase in the global share of poverty from 37% in 2010 to 66% in 2021
Year East Asia & Pacific Europe & Central Asia Latin America & Caribbean Middle East & North Africa Other high income South Asia Sub-Saharan Africa
2010 214,547,245 11,303,522 35,455,762 8,975,997 5,288,488 432,768,777 416,672,141
2011 163,384,244 9,666,777 33,081,189 8,976,993 5,956,596 356,023,226 410,278,972
2012 138,812,987 9,090,255 27,875,182 7,790,979 6,111,593 329,294,553 407,093,979
2013 66,326,201 7,713,023 25,249,729 7,759,051 6,787,011 298,199,871 414,389,295
2014 54,090,216 8,770,121 23,790,110 9,527,328 7,298,962 270,242,459 414,524,360
2015 42,163,097 7,299,472 23,619,436 16,407,354 7,882,314 239,240,750 422,750,591
2016 35,442,929 6,306,103 24,753,332 20,513,674 6,884,813 208,769,655 433,585,582
2017 29,143,541 6,406,307 25,445,194 24,437,015 7,429,915 182,704,896 438,666,252
2018 24,585,375 5,200,466 26,122,505 29,768,537 6,638,298 162,037,793 442,044,291
2019 19,912,835 5,011,294 29,828,531 31,061,631 6,654,713 151,465,260 446,080,047
2020 22,892,184 5,042,363 36,087,909 31,427,792 6,741,333 175,130,805 462,383,062
2021 19,162,111 4,527,065 36,270,532 32,956,650 6,758,077 140,242,131 457,864,576

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and national sources.Note: ‘Other high income’ countries is composed of countries classified by the World Bank as high income, from any geographic region, with GNI per capita of more than $12.

In countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty significantly increased between 1990 and 2002 and has remained almost level since then. In 2010, 416 million people in countries in sub-Saharan Africa were living below the extreme poverty line – this was 37% of the global population living in extreme poverty. By 2021, the region is still home to more than 457 million people living in extreme poverty. As poverty has reduced elsewhere around the world, extreme poverty in countries in sub-Saharan Africa now represents a global share of over 66% of the people who live in extreme poverty around the world.

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Figure 7: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in sub-Saharan Africa (2010–2021)

Figure 7: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in sub-Saharan Africa (2010–2021)
Country Region % of people
living in extreme poverty, 2010
% of people
living in extreme poverty, 2021
Increase/decrease
in % of people living in extreme poverty
Increase/decrease
in number of people living in extreme poverty (millions)
Congo,
Republic of
Sub-Saharan Africa 41% 59% 18% 1.6
Comoros Sub-Saharan Africa 18% 18% 0% 0.0
Cabo Verde Sub-Saharan Africa 6% 3% -3% 0.0
Eritrea Sub-Saharan Africa 47% 40% -7% 0.2
Ethiopia Sub-Saharan Africa 36% 17% -19% -12.2
Gabon Sub-Saharan Africa 7% 3% -4% 0.0
Ghana Sub-Saharan Africa 18% 10% -8% -1.3
Guinea Sub-Saharan Africa 53% 17% -36% -3.4
Gambia, The Sub-Saharan Africa 25% 7% -19% -0.3
Guinea-Bissau Sub-Saharan Africa 68% 63% -6% 0.2
Equatorial
Guinea
Sub-Saharan Africa 26% 38% 12% 0.3
Kenya Sub-Saharan Africa 41% 28% -13% -1.8
Liberia Sub-Saharan Africa 62% 48% -15% 0.0
Lesotho Sub-Saharan Africa 42% 29% -13% -0.2
Madagascar Sub-Saharan Africa 78% 77% -1% 5.3
Mali Sub-Saharan Africa 50% 41% -9% 1.0
Mozambique Sub-Saharan Africa 68% 62% -7% 4.0
Mauritania Sub-Saharan Africa 10% 5% -5% -0.1
Mauritius Sub-Saharan Africa 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Malawi Sub-Saharan Africa 71% 66% -5% 3.1
Namibia Sub-Saharan Africa 22% 17% -5% 0.0
Niger Sub-Saharan Africa 55% 35% -20% -0.3
Nigeria Sub-Saharan Africa 55% 39% -16% -4.5
Rwanda Sub-Saharan Africa 64% 46% -19% -0.5
Sudan Sub-Saharan Africa 18% 15% -3% 0.3
Senegal Sub-Saharan Africa 38% 25% -13% -0.5
Sierra Leone Sub-Saharan Africa 58% 40% -19% -0.5
Somalia Sub-Saharan Africa 0% 68%
South Sudan Sub-Saharan Africa 42% 81% 39% 7.1
Sao Tome and
Principe
Sub-Saharan Africa 35% 37% 3% 0.0
Eswatini Sub-Saharan Africa 40% 28% -12% -0.1
Seychelles Sub-Saharan Africa 1% 1% -1% 0.0
Chad Sub-Saharan Africa 37% 41% 4% 2.5
Togo Sub-Saharan Africa 56% 43% -12% 0.1
Tanzania Sub-Saharan Africa 54% 46% -9% 4.4
Uganda Sub-Saharan Africa 44% 36% -7% 2.8
South Africa Sub-Saharan Africa 16% 21% 5% 3.9
Zambia Sub-Saharan Africa 66% 59% -6% 2.3
Zimbabwe Sub-Saharan Africa 27% 42% 15% 3.8

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook. Full data for all countries is available in the Annex.

For 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased between 2010 and 2020. The largest increases have occurred in Angola (9.4 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (8.8 million) and South Sudan (7 million). Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw a reduction in the proportion of its population below the extreme poverty line over the same period, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by over 8 million due to population growth. The number of people living in extreme poverty has reduced significantly in Ethiopia (12 million), Guinea (3.4 million) and Nigeria (4.5 million), as the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has also declined in these countries. In other countries, the unequal distribution of economic gains along with population growth has led to a steady rise in the number of people living in poverty, despite general economic expansion.[10]

Countries plotted in the top right-hand corner of the chart saw both the numbers and proportion of population living in extreme poverty increase between 2010 and 2021. South Sudan stands out, with an increase of 39% of the population, corresponding to an extra 7 million people in extreme poverty. On the furthest right-hand side of the chart, the countries with the largest increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (8.8 million) and Angola (9.5 million), however in Angola this corresponded to a 17% increase in the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was a 16% decrease.

Extreme poverty has increased in countries affected by conflict

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Figure 8: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Middle East and North Africa (2010–2021)

Figure 8: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Middle East and North Africa (2010–2021)
Country Region % of people
living in extreme poverty, 2010
% of people
living in extreme poverty, 2021
Increase/decrease
in % of people living in extreme poverty
Increase/decrease
in number of people living in extreme poverty (millions)
Djibouti Middle East and North Africa 19% 14% -6% 0.0
Algeria Middle East and North Africa 1% 0% 0% -0.1
Egypt, Arab Republic of Middle East and North Africa 3% 3% 1% 1.2
Iran, Islamic Republic of Middle East and North Africa 1% 1% 0% -0.1
Iraq Middle East and North Africa 2% 2% 0% 0.4
Jordan Middle East and North Africa 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Lebanon Middle East and North Africa 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Libya Middle East and North Africa 34% 35% 0% 0.2
Morocco Middle East and North Africa 2% 1% -1% -0.3
West Bank and Gaza Middle East and North Africa 0% 1% 1% 0.0
Syrian Arab Republic Middle East and North Africa 0% 35% 34% 6.7
Tunisia Middle East and North Africa 2% 0% -2% -0.2
Yemen, Republic of Middle East and North Africa 9% 58% 49% 15.8

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook. Full data for all countries is available in the Annex.

Between 2010 and 2021 poverty has increased in countries affected by conflict and fragility. Yemen has seen the highest increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, with 16 million more people below the extreme poverty line. In Venezuela, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by 10 million, and in Syria the number is estimated to have increased by 6.7 million, though accurate data is difficult to obtain in these contexts.

Countries plotted in the top right-hand corner of the chart saw both the numbers and proportion of the population living in extreme poverty increase between 2010 and 2021. Yemen stands out, with an increase of 49% of the population, corresponding to an extra 16 million people in extreme poverty. Syria saw an increase of 34%.

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Figure 9: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (2010–2021)

Figure 9: Change in numbers of people (millions) and the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (2010–2021)
Country Region % of the population living in extreme poverty, 2010 % of the population living in extreme poverty, 2021 Increase/decrease in % of the population living in extreme poverty Increase/decrease in number of people living in extreme poverty (millions)
Argentina Latin America and the Caribbean 1% 2% 0% 0.1
Belize Latin America and the Caribbean 14% 17% 4% 0.0
Bolivia Latin America and the Caribbean 9% 3% -5% -0.5
Brazil Latin America and the Caribbean 5% 5% 0% 0.2
Chile Latin America and the Caribbean 1% 0% -1% -0.1
Colombia Latin America and the Caribbean 8% 5% -3% -1.0
Costa Rica Latin America and the Caribbean 2% 1% -1% 0.0
Dominican Republic Latin America and the Caribbean 2% 1% -2% -0.2
Ecuador Latin America and the Caribbean 6% 4% -2% -0.2
Guatemala Latin America and the Caribbean 10% 6% -4% -0.4
Guyana Latin America and the Caribbean 9% 4% -5% 0.0
Honduras Latin America and the Caribbean 16% 15% 0% 0.2
Haiti Latin America and the Caribbean 58% 21% -36% -3.3
Jamaica Latin America and the Caribbean 2% 2% 1% 0.0
St. Lucia Latin America and the Caribbean 5% 5% 0% 0.0
Mexico Latin America and the Caribbean 5% 2% -3% -2.8
Nicaragua Latin America and the Caribbean 7% 4% -3% -0.1
Panama Latin America and the Caribbean 4% 1% -3% -0.1
Peru Latin America and the Caribbean 6% 2% -3% -0.8
Paraguay Latin America and the Caribbean 5% 1% -4% -0.3
El Salvador Latin America and the Caribbean 6% 1% -4% -0.3
Suriname-Urban Latin America and the Caribbean 17% 19% 2% 0.0
Trinidad and
Tobago
Latin America and the Caribbean 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Uruguay Latin America and the Caribbean 0% 0% 0% 0.0
Venezuela, Republica Bolivariana de Latin America and the Caribbean 6% 35% 30% 10.2

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet and IMF World Economic Outlook

Venezuela, marked in the top right-hand corner of the chart, saw the proportion of their population living in poverty has increase by 30%. This has resulted in an increase of 10.2 million people living in extreme poverty. In contrast, Haiti saw the proportion fall by 36%, corresponding with 3.3 million fewer people living in extreme poverty.

On 10 November 2021 we updated this factsheet with new data. You can still download the December 2019 version of Poverty trends: global, regional and national and the previous data set.

Notes

  • 3
    Development Initiatives names regions according to World Bank terminology to remain consistent with our data sources.
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