For the First Time Ever, Less Than 10 Per Cent of the World’s Population Lives in Extreme Poverty

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called it the best story in the world today: Less than 10 percent of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.

The threshold for ‘extreme poverty’ is determined by those living on $1.90 US a day or less. This year, 9.6 per cent of the world population is expected to live below these means; in 2012, 12.8 per cent of the world population lived on or below this amount.

“These projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,” said Kim. It’s the first time the forecast falls into single digits and an encouraging sign for the global effort to eradicate poverty around the world by 2030.

A further look into the figures, however, paints a less rosy picture. Sub-Saharan Africa now accounts for half of the world’s extreme poverty, compared to just 15 per cent in 1990. This is largely the result of significant population growth, economies dependent on commodity exports, and eternal conflict in one country or another – factors that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to resolve in just 15 years.

Kim also outlined an extensive list of challenges facing every corner of the planet, which are equally concerning: slower global growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change.

“Urban air pollution emerged as a leading cause of ill-health in developing countries—more than triple the impact of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined,” said the World Bank’s report. Poor health, of course, is a major accelerant of the poverty cycle.