Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Global ex­treme...

- Hunger · Poverty · Overpopulation · Population Ageing · Finance · Climate Change · Social Issues · Society · Business · Ecology

The con­ver­gence of the COVID-19 pan­demic with the pres­sures of con­flict and cli­mate change will put the goal of end­ing poverty by 2030 be­yond reach with­out swift, sig­nif­i­cant and sub­stan­tial pol­icy ac­tion, the World Bank said. By 2030, the global poverty rate could be about 7 per­cent. In­creas­ing num­bers of ur­ban dwellers are ex­pected to fall into ex­treme poverty, which has tra­di­tion­ally af­fected peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas. Progress was slow­ing even be­fore the COVID-19 cri­sis. New global poverty data for 2017 shows that 52 mil­lion peo­ple rose out of poverty be­tween 2015 and 2017. Yet de­spite this progress, the rate of re­duc­tion slowed to less than half a per­cent­age point per year be­tween 2015 and 2017.

Global poverty had dropped at the rate of around 1 per­cent­age point per year be­tween 1990 and 2015.

In ad­di­tion to the US$ 1.90 per-day in­ter­na­tional poverty line, the World Bank mea­sures poverty lines of US$ 3.20 and US$ 5.50, re­flect­ing na­tional poverty lines in lower-mid­dle-in­come and up­per-mid­dle-in­come coun­tries.

The re­port fur­ther mea­sures poverty across a mul­ti­di­men­sional spec­trum that in­cludes ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and ba­sic in­fras­truc­ture.

While less than a tenth of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lives on less than US$ 1.90 a day, close to a quar­ter of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lives be­low the US$ 3.20 line and more than 40 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion – al­most 3.3 bil­lion peo­ple – live be­low the US$ 5.50 line.

The COVID-19 cri­sis has also di­min­ished shared pros­per­ity – de­fined as the growth in the in­come of the poor­est 40 per­cent of a coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion. Av­er­age global shared pros­per­ity is es­ti­mated to stag­nate or even con­tract over 2019-2021 due to the re­duced growth in av­er­age in­comes.

The de­cel­er­a­tion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in­ten­si­fied by the pan­demic is likely to hit the poor­est peo­ple es­pe­cially hard, and this could lead to even lower shared pros­per­ity in­di­ca­tors in com­ing years.

The prospect of less in­clu­sive growth is a clear re­ver­sal from pre­vi­ous trends. Shared pros­per­ity increased in 74 of 91 economies for which data was avail­able in the pe­riod 20122017, mean­ing that growth was in­clu­sive and the in­comes of the poor­est 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion grew.

In 53 of those coun­tries, growth ben­e­fited the poor­est more than the en­tire pop­u­la­tion. Av­er­age global shared pros­per­ity (growth in the in­comes of the bot­tom 40 per­cent) was 2.3 per­cent for 2012-2017. This sug­gests that with­out pol­icy ac­tions, the COVID-19 cri­sis may trig­ger cy­cles of higher in­come in­equal­ity, lower so­cial mo­bil­ity among the vul­ner­a­ble, and lower re­silience to fu­ture shocks.

The re­port calls for col­lec­tive ac­tion to en­sure years of progress in poverty re­duc­tion are not erased, and that ef­forts to con­front poverty caused by COVID-19 also face threats that dis­pro­por­tion­ally im­pact the world’s poor at the same time, par­tic­u­larly con­flict and cli­mate change.

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