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  • The Definition of Extreme Poverty Has Just Changed - Population Living on Less than $1.90 a Day

The Definition of Extreme Poverty Has Just Changed - Population Living on Less than $1.90 a Day

Poverty presses at the core of humanity. We often judge the best of us by the least of us. Most of us already know that much of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. But just how prevalent is this issue? Using data from 2018, we created an easy-to-read visualization to chart the total number of people living in extreme poverty in countries around the world.

The Definition of Extreme Poverty Has Just Changed

  • The U.S. poverty rate has fallen for the fourth consecutive year.
  • The U.S. metric for measuring poverty is considered misleading as it undercounts people suffering from economic deprivation.
  • International poverty rates are already high and may be worsened by the trade war.
  • In the United States, people of color are disproportionately affected by poverty compared to white people.

For our visualization, we pulled 2018 population data from The World Bank as well as data from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2019 Goalkeepers report. This is an annual report that focuses on the progress achieved toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 ambitious goals the member states of the United Nations committed to reaching by 2030.

To obtain the figures used in the visualization, we multiplied the population of each country by the extreme poverty rate. We then visualized this data using circles for each country. The bigger the circle, the higher the number of people living in extreme poverty. For figures smaller than 1,000 the country is represented with a “<1,000” label.

Countries With The Highest Extreme Poverty Rates

1. Somalia: 99.2%
2. Central African Republic: 80.92%
3. Burundi: 77.72%
4. North Korea: 70.58%
5. Madagascar: 69.77%
6. Democratic Republic of Congo: 68.84%
7. Malawi: 67.56%
8. Yemen: 64.51%
9. Sierra Leone: 59.55%
10. Guinea-Bissau: 53.88%

By analyzing this data, we can see how many people across the globe are living under the international poverty line ($1.90/day). While several countries have an estimated extreme poverty rate of 0%, poverty is a much larger issue in other countries, such as Somalia, in which the majority of the population lives in extreme poverty.

The United States also has a considerably low extreme poverty rate at 0.97%. However, though the U.S. poverty rate is declining, many suggest that these numbers are misleading and don’t represent the true number of people living in poverty in the country.

Much of the world’s population is living in extreme poverty; however, you might not have realized how serious this issue actually is. By taking a look at our visualization, we can see how much of the world is living in poverty and get a better understanding of how this issue may or may not be improving.

Should the U.S. update its metric for measuring poverty? Why is extreme poverty distributed the way that it is? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the article


Juan Carlos