Extreme poverty is defined as living below the global extreme poverty line, set at $2.15 per day. In 2019 about 8% of the world’s population—648 million people—lived in extreme poverty, compared to almost 30% in 2000, according to the latest data from the World Bank. This means that over 1.1 billion people have escaped extreme poverty over the past two decades.
Most regions have made progress in reducing extreme poverty
Since the start of the millennium, all regions except the Middle East & North Africa have seen declining shares of people living in extreme poverty. The largest reductions have come in East Asia and the Pacific, where the poverty rate has declined from 40% in 2000 to just over 1% in 2019.
Despite the overall global progress, over a third of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa lived in extreme poverty in 2019. The region accounts for 389 million—60%— of the global population living in extreme poverty.
Almost all countries with high extreme poverty rates are in Sub-Saharan Africa
With the exception of Haiti and Papua New Guinea, all countries with extreme poverty rates above 15% are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The highest extreme poverty rates can be found in Madagascar, Somalia and Malawi.
Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India are the three countries with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Together these three countries account for almost one-fifth—140 million—of those living in extreme poverty around the world.
The World is Off-track to End Extreme Poverty by 2030
World Bank estimates show the historical setback caused by the pandemic in eradicating extreme poverty. Although uncertainty exsits due to data availability, global extreme poverty increased for the first time in two decades from 648 million in 2019 to 719 million people in 2020.
Since then poverty reduction has resumed in 2021, but the outlook for 2022 is uncertain due to rising food and energy prices. According to the World Bank, this could cause 2022 to be the second-worst year for poverty reduction, after 2020, in the last 22 years.
It is now estimated that some 574 million people—7% of the global population—will live in extreme poverty in 2030, far off the global target set in the Sustainable Development Goals of reducing the extreme poverty rate to below 3% (255 million people).
According to the World Bank’s latest Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report:
“These setbacks have altered the trajectory of poverty reduction in large and lasting ways, sending the world even further off course on the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”
About the data
The source of the data used in this tracker is the World Bank Poverty and Inequality Platform. Projections for 2020 and further are from the World Bank report Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022.
- First release 25 October 2022.