As the United Nations prepares to mark the
International day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th,
research released today by The Fraser Institute shows that world
poverty rates in 2000 were one-third to one-half the rates
experienced in 1970.
"The world has already achieved more than 60 per cent of the
United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of cutting the world
poverty rate to half of 1990 levels by the year 2015," said the
study's author Dr. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, a world-renowned
economist, professor at Columbia University and author of The
Fraser Institute report Falling Poverty and Income Inequality: A Global Phenomenon
Since there is no agreement on the level of income below which
people are poor, Sala-i-Martin used four different measures of
poverty for his analysis:
(1) the World Bank (WB) Poverty Line of $1 per day;
(2) an adjusted World Bank Poverty Line of $1.5 per day;
(3) $2 per day; and
(4) $3 per day.
UN poverty reduction targets are based on the proportion of
people with incomes below one dollar per day.
Sala-i-Martin's study shows that poverty rates unambiguously fell
for all four poverty lines, indicating that 212 to 428 million
people escaped poverty over the past three decades.
"This is especially impressive given that world population
increased almost 50 per cent over this time period," said
Sala-i-Martin attributes these changes to the dramatic rise in
economic growth of Asia, especially in China and India. In East
Asia, for example, poverty rates fell to 2.4 per cent in 2000
from 32.7 per cent in 1970. Poverty fell to 2.5 per cent from
30.3 per cent in South Asia.
But Sala-i-Martin cautions that the picture is not uniformly
bright. He points to Africa where the proportion of the
population living in poverty increased to 48.8 per cent in 2000
from 35.1 per cent in 1970.
As a result, world poverty is now concentrated in Africa. While
more than 80 per cent of the world's poor lived in East and South
Asia in 1970, three decades later Africa is home to 70 per cent
of the world's poor. Thus, while close to half a billion (487
million) people were lifted out of poverty in East and South
Asia, an additional 200 million Africans have fallen into poverty
over the past three decades.
"While poverty was once mostly an Asian problem, the dismal lack
of economic growth in Africa means poverty is now largely an
African tragedy," Sala-i-Martin said.