Poverty is a complex, multidimensional issue that goes beyond the lack of income that characterizes it. It affects how, what and when people eat, how they manage their health, the basic resources they have access to, the people they associate with and how they interact with them, and even their way of thinking. Moreover, prolonged, severe poverty can be a crippling problem for families for generations on end and it can be very difficult to escape. But however disastrous poverty can be for millions and millions of people worldwide, their better-off peers still feel very detached from it. It is often as if instances where people live on less than a dollar a day and children starve to death only happen in a galaxy far, far away and not in the same country, or region, or continent. If you identify with the type of person described above, this post is for you. Below you will find poverty facts, which will hopefully be useful in providing you with insight on poverty, its causes, complexity and why it is so important to eliminate it.
POVERTY FACTS: CHILDREN
- There are 2.2 billion children in the world and half of them live in poverty conditions. Source: WorldHunger.org
- An estimate of 161 million, or 25%, children under the age of five were stunted in 2013. About half that amount live in Asia and over one third in Africa. Source: WorldHunger.org
- In 2013, 51 million under-five year olds were wasted and 17 million were severely wasted. This represents 8 and 3%, respectively, of all children under age five. Source: WorldHunger.org
- In 2013, two thirds of severely wasted children lived in Asia and the remaining one third lived in Africa. The same proportions were in place for severe wasting. Source: WorldHunger.org
- Globally, an estimate of 101 million (16%) children under age five are underweight. In contrast, 43 million (7%) children under the age of five were overweight in 2011, a 54% increase from 1990 data. Source: WHO
- Under-five mortality for children living in poverty has decreased since 1990. Today, 22,000 children die daily around the world which is 12,000 fewer than it was two decades back. An estimate of 70% of these deaths occur in the first year of the child’s life. Source: Unicef
- As of 2009, 50% of under-five deaths were concentrated in five countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China. Source: Unicef
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with more under-five deaths: 1 in 8 children dies before their fifth birthday. This is 20 times the average for developed regions (1 in 167). The second highest rates go to Southern Asia, where 1 in 14 children die before age five. Source: Unicef
- 640 million children live in inadequate housing conditions.
- 400 million children do not have access to clean drinking water. An estimate of 1.4 million die each year due to lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
- 270 million children do not have access to health care. An estimate of 2.2 million children die each year because they were not immunized, with an additional 2 million children dying of preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Source: Unicef
- As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
- In the 30 years of the global HIV epidemic, an estimate of 17 million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. 90% of those children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Source: USAid
- 5 million children under age 15 are living with HIV.
POVERTY FACTS: ECONOMIC
- According to 2011 statistics from the World Bank, the people living in extreme poverty –which is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day—have diminished significantly since 1981. This amount went from 1.93 billion to a little over 1 billion in 30 years.
- Out of this amount, 551 million live in Asia, 436 million in Africa, 15 million in South America, 5.9 million in North America, 0.3 million live in Europe and 50 thousand live in Oceania. Source: Max Roser (2016) World Poverty
- As of 2011, there were 2.2 billion people living in less than US $2 a day. In comparison, this amount was 2.59 billion in 1981, so not much change has been made at this level.
- At least 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day.
- In the last three decades, poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, especially Eastern Asia, with China showing the most significant improvement.
- China’s poverty rate fell from 85% to 15.9% since 1981, which is roughly 600 million people. In other words, China accounts for nearly all the world’s poverty reduction. Excluding this country, poverty has fallen by approximately 10%.
- In the last three decades, Sub-Saharan Africa has seen an increase on the number of people living in extreme poverty.
- The GDP per capita of the 41 most heavily indebted countries, whose total number of inhabitants is 567 million, is less than the combined wealth of the 7 wealthiest people in the world.
- The world’s low income countries, which are inhabited by 2.4 million people, account for roughly 2.4% of the world’s exports.
- As of 2010, 91,000 people (or 0,001% of the world’s population) owned at least a third of all private financial wealth, and 49% of all offshore wealth. The remaining 51% percent is owned by 8.4 million people (0.14% of the world’s population). Almost all these people have managed to avoid all income and estate taxes. Source: The Borgen Project
- For every $1 in aid received by a developing country, over $25 are spent on debt repayment.
- According to Oxfam estimates, it would take $60 billion annually to eradicate extreme poverty. This amount is less than 25% of the income of the top 100 richest billionaires. Source: Oxfam
- Poverty can also be seen in countries and regions considered as “developed”. In 2014, 122.3 million people, or 24.4% of the population in the European Union were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. These people fell into three different categories: Income poverty (17.2% of the EU population), severe material deprivation (9%) and living in households with very low work intensity (11% of the EU population). Source: Eurostat
POVERTY FACTS: EDUCATION
- Nearly 17% of the world’s population (1.2 billion people) are illiterate. Two thirds of them are women. Source: UNESCO
- An estimated 122 million youth are illiterate, with women comprising 60.7% of that amount. Source: UNESCO
- There are 67.4 million children who are not enrolled in school. UNESCO cites them as “likely to encounter great difficulties in the future, as deficient or non-existent basic education is the root cause of illiteracy”. Source: UNESCO
- In 2012, 31 million primary-school pupils worldwide dropped out of school. 32 million repeated a grade. Source: UNESCO
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, 11.07 million children drop out of primary school. In South and West Asia, 13.54 million children are in the same situation.
- Girls are less likely to go to school, but boys are more likely to drop out or repeat grades.
- Children from the wealthiest 20% are 4 times more likely to go to school than children of the poorest 20%
- In developing countries, every year a children spends cultivating their education increases their future income by approximately 10%
- Women with an education have less children than their uneducated peers.
- Women with a primary school education are 13% more likely to know that use of condoms reduces the risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.
- South America and Europe have the highest youth literacy rates, averaging 90% to 100% literacy. In contrast, Africa has areas with less than 50% literacy among children aged 18 and under.
POVERTY FACTS: HEALTH
- Diarrhea caused by lack of access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation and hand hygiene kills and estimate of 842,000 people annually, which roughly translates into 2,300 people daily. Source: WHO
- There are 350 to 500 million cases of malaria annually worldwide. Treatment and prevention for malaria, including the installment of bed net costs approximately $6. Less than 2% of African children have said bed net.
- In 2011, intensive control of this disease lead to a decrease of 20% in deaths from malaria.
- Tuberculosis infects 9 million people annually, 2 million of them die. This illness is absolutely preventable, as its treatment costs only 41 cents a day.
- 300,000 people are infected with Polio each year, with 98% of them living in India, Pakistan and Nigeria. Polio vaccines cost 50 cents.
- 90,000 women die each year due to unsanitary delivery practices. 1 in 13 women in the developing world will die in childbirth and only 40% of all women in developing countries have access to a skilled doctor at delivery.
- 2 million newborns die within their first 24 hours.
- 8,000 people die from AIDS every day. An estimate of 65 million people will have died from AIDS by 2020.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has 10% of the world’s population and 70% of the world’s HIV/AIDS population. It also has 80% of AIDs deaths and 90% of AIDS orphans.
- Most children are infected with HIV during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. Less than 10% of them receive treathment.
POVERTY FACTS: HUMAN RIGHTS
- As of 2012, which is the last year for which statistic data was available, over 172 million people were affected by conflict worldwide. 87%, or 149 million people, were conflict-affected residents, 18 million were internally displaced persons and the remaining amount was constituted by refugees.
- In 2012, Pakistan and Nigeria had the largest amount of people living on conflict, with 28 million and 19 million, respectively. In the same year, Libya and Somalia had the largest proportion of their populations affected by conflict, at nearly 90% each.
- Internally displaced persons were twice as likely as refugees to die from conflict related causes, especially disease and starvation. Conflict-affected residents also have a higher death rate than refugees. Source: CRED
- An estimate of 20 million children are refugees or internally displaced because of armed conflict.
- Over 200,000 children die each year because of armed conflict. 600,000 are injured or disabled and 10,000 are injured from landmines.
- Globally, 1 in 3 women will be sexually or physically abused in her lifetime. 1 in 5 will survive rape and 3 million women die each year due to gender related violence.
- More than 200 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to genital mutilation.
- 27% of rape victims in Congo have tested positive for HIV.
- There are 300,000 child soldiers worldwide, 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide and 246 children in total are engaged in child labor. An estimate of 171 million children are working in hazardous conditions.
POVERTY FACTS: HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION
- Around 795 million (or 1 in 9) people suffer from chronic malnutrition. Two thirds of this amount are in Asia, most notably in the western side, where the percentage of undernourished people has increased in recent years. Source: World Food Programme.
- There are 780 undernourished people in developing countries, which comprises 12.9% of their population. Source: FAO
- The number of undernourished people in developing countries has diminished by 42% since 1990. Source: FAO
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 4 people is undernourished. Source: World Food Programme.
- If women farmers were granted the same access to resources as men, the amount of undernourished people worldwide could be reduced by 150 million. Source: World Food Programme.
- In developing countries, 1 in 2 pregnant women and about 40% of preschool children are estimated to be anemic. Anemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths. Source: WHO
- 66 million children in primary-school age go to class hungry in developing countries. An estimate of $3.2 billion is needed annually to reach all these children, according to calculations from the WFP. Source: World Food Programme.
- An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children with vitamin A deficiencies lose their sight every year. Half of them die within a year of becoming blind. Source: WHO
- The world produces enough food to feed everyone, but a large amount of people still lacks sufficient income to purchase food or land to grow it. Source: Huffington Post
POVERTY FACTS: WATER, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
- 1 in 4 humans, or 1.6 billion people, lives without electricity. Source: United Nations
- 5 billion people worldwide (most living in developing countries) are forced to rely on biomass, such as charcoal, animal feces and fuelwood to meet their energy needs for cooking. This situation is seen in 80% of Sub-Saharan dwellers and over half of the population of India and China
- Indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels such as the above mentioned claims the lives of 1.5 million people, this amounts to a little over 4,000 people a day. More than half of the deaths from indoor air pollution are seen in children under age five.
- Only 0.74% of the world’s water is considered safe for drinking. 2 billion people lack access to it in adequate amounts.
- 85% of the water on the planet is being used by 12% of the world population. These people do not live in the developing world.
- 2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and other 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
- Global marine resources are declining, along with the forests in South America and Africa.
- Hundreds of species worldwide are being driven to extinction by overhunting, alien species, climate change and a series of other factors.
For a quick review on all the poverty facts listed above, check the video below